Venue: Woking Park, Surrey
Weather report: a couple of degrees milder than hell
Saturday 16th July 2022, a little like Christmas morning for me. Selected at short notice for the Plough once again after a two year rest and keen to get acquainted with the huge influx of new faces over the past two seasons. I scooped up AJ 2.0 and Benny and headed to Woking Park. We passed and were then passed by the Gumpert-truck hurtling down the A3 towards their 1s fixture at Ottershaw. Concerns for Max’s front shocks were allayed, eventually.
Ploughmen descended upon Woking Park from all corners, some had been wandering around brave enough to consult the locals on the location of ‘a cricket pitch’. Ring-Go share prices rose, pins were dropped and players prepared themselves for a spicy en ‘count’ er.
Very little between the two sides according to the league table, something everyone seemed up for correcting. A toss took place and even though it was a scorcher, with the most serious scorching due later in the afternoon, Warriors won the toss and decided to bat and then spend several hours in the field. A decision their bespectacled off-spinner was later to rue as he wobbled to the boundary to be assisted by Nurse Lonnen.
Their openers made the cagiest of starts attempting to negotiate the speed and bounce of both Wilby and Rumford. Things were going at about 3 an over for the first 10 overs with AJ and Benny brought on to try and make a breakthrough around the first drinks break. It was clearly going to be a tough day for everyone in the field as water was consumed at regular intervals.
Benny removed one of their openers early in his second over to nobody’s surprise after Benny started hooping the ball leaving the batsmen to reply with a series of comical air shots. Their number three entered the fray only to leave his second ball to destroy both his off stump and dignity.
Warriors were 2 down in the twelfth but Wides was featuring far too heavily at this stage and Capt. Lonnen took the cherry and set to task. As we are well accustomed to seeing, our venerable leader sent down delivery after delivery to trouble the decidedly average batting on show. Shed loads of effort was delivering little luck against a number of poorly considered shots.
After Benny had removed all of the top three thanks to a Trent catch the next to go was their number 4 who after swinging at a few, found Dan Rumford’s hands giving Bees a wicket. Lonnen, Beesley and Haque kept the runs well down and continued to trouble batsmen.
Some circus umpiring then threatened to turn the game into farce after their only capable remaining batsman was given a lifeline by the second worst umpire in the league after he middled it into Ainslie’s gloves. Some verbal sparring resulted in tension that remained for the rest of the game. Integrity was questioned but karma was served up on a platter as AJ removed some stumps in the next over sending their number 7 back to the ‘pavilion’.
Lonnen more than deserved his lovely caught and bowled and then forced their number 8 to sky one to Bees at gully. (I dropped one off AJ a few overs later that was almost identical).
They reached 153-7 after their 40 which was around 50 more than they were good for. So with 31 wides recorded and Umpire Prafal ruffled to say the least we fed and watered ourselves and with all the ugliness emerging, all that served to do was steel our nerves and make sure that both cricket and the Plough came out as winners.
Hanzi and Ainslie took to the middle. Their opening bowlers caused caution and Hanzi departed LBW rather early doors. Ainslie and Umar steadied proceedings but obviously without avoiding controversy as both ruffled Prafal and the oppo captain getting a little gobby – we have Lonnen at hand to subdue such nonsense however. In hindsight we could have advised the oppo captain to go out of covers and move to 1st slip, to at least make his ‘every single f***ing ball appeals’ seem a little more qualified.
Nobody’s innings really took off, it wasn’t the game for it, but Ainslie added a skilled 18 followed by wily and gutsy 30s from Umar and Benny we reached the 100 mark of about 20 overs. Their offie and leggie had a good go at disrupting the plough flow but sadly our focus in the middle and our refusal to bow to their shenanigans was something they couldn’t find a response for.
154-4 victory by 6 wickets, 3rd place in the league maintained and integrity intact. An absolute joy to take the field again for the plough, especially under the leadership of Lonnen. So wonderful to meet all these new faces, all top blokes to boot.
Plough on… Bees (Ron)