Having dispatched one Surrey Warriors side the previous week, Plough began the day hopeful of the SW double as we made our way out to Slough to play the Spartans.
The day started with a well-planned rendezvous at Waterloo station, but this quickly turned sour as we discovered we had conspired to choose the train containing the “zoo” of people going to both Ascot and Twickenham.
The Plough were not to be deterred and despite a platform scrum or two and Drew not making the train, we all made it to the ground on time via a fairly dodgy cab driver (guy lurking in a minibus in the station car park) at Slough station. Big team news for the day was the return of former club captain, Nicko Dowell, who was available for a couple of weeks whilst visiting form Aus.
On arrival, the pitch looked like a classic wicket in this league, dry enough but with a decent covering of grass, leaving enough in it for the bowlers and batsmen. Looking at the order and with faith in our batting line up, Grayzer won the toss and elected to bat!
The faith however, wasn’t immediately rewarded. With a bit more in the pitch than first met the eye, particularly with the harder ball, the Plough top order struggled, leaving us 50 for 5. This included a 10,000 mile duck for Nicko which was met with particular distain from the Club Captain and Chairman who had gathered by the side of the pitch over the first 10 overs. I think the phrase was… “long way to come for a duck”.
However, as we’ve come to learn over the years, one of the strengths of a Plough team is that we bat deep and this came into force once more as the ship was steadied, first by Leo (37) and DNS (16) and then CRS who rotated the strike beautifully throughout his stay at the crease.
The star of the show though, was undoubtedly Drew Withers who came in at number 10 and played a knock that belied his lowly batting position. He struck the ball beautifully from almost his first ball and took the attack back to the bowling, finishing with 48 off just 30 balls.
We ended the innings with CRS being trapped in front on the last ball of the 45th over, finishing with a very individually jug-elusive 49 and the team on a very defendable 225.
Brimming with positivity following the strong end to the innings, we took the field confident of taking the 20 points but simultaneously very aware that all SW teams fight hard and have plenty of batting to challenge any total.
We opened with the threatening pair of Drew and captain Grayzer and true to form, the batsman set about the total positively.
Despite an excellent spell from Drew (2-10), who had the batsmen playing and missing more times than we could count, the game was poised at 87-2…
Little did the batting team know though, we had a secret weapon up our sleeves. In an inspired move, the skipper turned to someone who was yet to bowl a ball in the league this year. On came, Chairman of the Breakfast Club, Leo Connelly.
Leo, it turned out, would be able to extract more from the pitch that anyone else with his skiddy but faultlessly rhythmical action and he delivered a devastating 7 overs of bowling. Inspired by a fantastic grab from Liam at mid-off to kick things off, Leo proceeded to rip through the batting order, attacking the stumps with unerring accuracy and ending up with 6 for 25, including four bowled and one LBW. With the sky darkening and the rain coming in, CRS polished off the last two batsmen, leaving Plough to win comfortably by over 100 runs.
Overall, a great team effort (admittedly mostly the bowlers with ball and bat), 20 points in the bag and it left Plough 1st XI well poised at 2nd in the league coming up to the halfway point in the season.
Chris butters, but engaged Butlin