Those who say that your wedding will be the best day of your life haven’t had the pleasure of walking out onto a cricket pitch on the first weekend of a new season, and they certainly couldn’t have done it in the baggy blue-and-gold. For many, myself included, it was a trip to Uxbridge on Sunday 24th that provided the opportunity to once again feel the rush of a new season.
As is customary at the beginning of any season, it was a combination of Plough stalwarts, debutants and everything in between that descended onto the Uxbridge turf to play against a strong-looking Uxbridge Sunday XI. Once Skipper Carson had first forgotten and then subsequently remembered to pick up two Ploughman after leaving them stranded at Baker Street, and Harry Davies had decided to appear from the changing rooms 1 minute before the arranged start time, the Ploughmen were ready to take to the field.
Bowling first, Ploughman’s opening partnership of Dan Rumford and debutant Sean Bosner faced up against a competent looking opening bat partnership who started well – leaving, rotating strike and taking the opportunity to score when it was there. After 8 overs the Uxbridge opening pair looked set and the signs were ominous. Enter Tom Lonnen. As the old adage goes some things just get better with age… With his very first ball of the season Tom found the edge of the bat and the ball flew to the safe pair of hands of Ben Fletcher at 2nd Slip. In what turned out to be symptomatic of his first spell, the second ball beat the edge of the new bat. This consistent bowling turned out to be too good for the new bat who guided the 3rd ball of the over to the bucket-hands of Duray at gulley. Dots to finish meant an excellent double-wicket maiden to start the season for Tom. The momentum had begun to shift and this was extended further when Dan Rumford took the edge of the other opening bat the very nextover, with Paddy making the resulting catch look comfortable behind the stumps. Duray added to this spell of Plough pressure, entering the attack and starting well with back-to-back wicket maidens.
However Uxbridge’s number 5 and number 7 regrouped, rebuilt and rebounded well. They were able to take the Uxbridge score from 76-5 after 20 overs to 200-9 after 40. This was an excellent recovery, but the Plough felt it was get-able on a pitch with one particularly short boundary and a fast outfield. Shoutouts to AJ (the Second) who bowled excellently at 2 set batters and Harry who took a 3fer bowling in the death overs.
Uxbridge’s runs on the board did not appear to phase the Plough’s opening batting partnership, with Britto and Paddy taking early initiative with some excellent stroke-play, sending the ball to the boundary with regularity. However, it was the Uxbridge bowling attack that would have the last laugh, removing our opening pair and then running through our middle order to leave Plough 34-5 after 10 overs. The game could have been over very quickly from here, however some excellent resilience from Sean Bonser in his first innings for the Plough, accompanied by Dan Rumford, stabilised the ship for a while before AJ (the Second) entered at 77-7 in the 26th over. He immediately went to work taking apart the Uxbridge bowling attack all around the park and in no time had reached an excellent 56 in just 36 balls. Ultimately the task was too big to chase down Uxbridge’s total but the tail-wagging brought respectability to our chase that had seemed unlikely when AJ (the Second) walked to the crease and I’m sure it had 1 or 2 Uxbridge players beginning to get nervous.
An outstanding knock in the circumstances. As it was, Plough were bowled out in the 38th over for 158 falling 42 runs short.
However, the day will be remembered fondly for some impressive early-season performances from new and old alike, the return of proper cricket teas, and that greatest feeling of all – standing in the field on a sunny Sunday surrounded by Ploughmen.
When all was said and done only one thing of importance remained – cricket was back.