On 23 April 2022, Wooburn, a quaint village in Buckinghamshire (and closer to Oxford than the DSG) presented the first opportunity for many Plough players to satisfy that insatiable urge to play competitive cricket in 2022.
Met with a backdrop of rolling hills and dense forestry, one could be forgiven for thinking that the team were out for a leisurely Saturday countryside walk or horse ride. However, the cricket pitch situated amongst a freshly mown squarereminded us all that there was cricket match to be played and won.
Following skipper L. Parks’ unsuccessful call of the toss, Plough were sent out to field. Before that though, it was a special moment for three of our newer members, G Diangienda, D Withers and H Shaffique who were each given their blue and gold Plough baggy by the skipper. A great occasion for the three with Hanzi remarking he wouldn’t take it off for the next 48 hours. I think I speak on behalf of all at the club in warmly welcoming these three new players and look forward to watching their successes on the field and sharing banter with them off the field.
Now to the cricket.
Daisy Duke Wilby and debutant Drew Withers took the new ball. In what was a surprising start, Wooburn’s openers began earnestly playing as if the match was a 20/20 and advancing down the track and flashing at anything with width. With glaring music played between boundaries and overs I thought for a brief moment that I was playing in the IPL.
April pitches in England tend not to have true bounce so despite the runs flowing at a hasty rate, Woorburn’s top order fell victim to the variable bounce.
There was no such variable bounce in the outfield which was lighting fast (although Spence may say differently using the bruises on his body as evidence). As a result, anything which made it past the infield raced to the boundary.
The aggressive approach from Wooburn was not without risk and at drinks Wooburn had raced to 100 for 5. Of those five wickets, Drew was impressive taking 3 wickets with Spencer and CRS each opening their accounts for the season.
CRS was brilliant, metronomical with the ball and really assisted in dropping the run rate. He was unlucky not to have a couple of more wickets following some close LBW shouts and a dropped catch from Stevens.
Unfortunately from a Plough perspective, the wickets dried up after drinks and some of Wooburn’s bats were able to score quickly. Despite best efforts from Jullienne and Wilby (who both dropped easy catches), debutant Giordy was also able to grab his first wicket for the Plough dismissing Wooburn’s danger man who was looking very threatening. The end of the innings saw Plough claw back the run rate resulting in Wooburn finishing 216-7 with Wilby getting a wicket late.
With runs on the board, it was always going to be a difficult chase for the Plough. However, the opening stand of Stevens and Jullienne started positively. Stevens in particular played some lovely on-drives for four and the two were able to put on 62 for the opening wicket in good time. It looked like the two may set a dominant platform for the team but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Cake hit a rank long-hop off Wooburn’s spinner straight to the only fielder in the circle at extra cover.
Hanzi and Will then continued on, but to give credit where credit is due to Wooburn they were able to find their lengths and strangle the run rate which pushed the required rate up. Stevens was able to bring up his first half century for the season and looked the goods before he toowas eventually dismissed for a well composed 60.
With the run rate rising and wickets in hand, Plough then began taking their chances to try get over the line. This meant aggressive shots to good balls and taking risks in running between the wickets. The former saw the demise of Leon (who looked assured before playing across the line to a good delivery) and the latter for Benny Hamilton who was run out from boundary attempting a quick 2nd.
Wooburn’s fielding was impressive and in addition to Hamilton’s direct hit run-out, Giordy was also pinged out from the boundary. Unfortunately, despite big hitting from Raees (out for 29 with strike rate of over 150) whose big hitting and shot selection kept us in the game and CRS (15* with a strike rate of 214) with two swashbuckling shots, the Plough fell 16 runs short to be 200-9 after the allotment of overs giving Wooburn the victory.
Although unfortunately the result didn’t go our way, it was a good afternoon out at Wooburn where the cricket was played with quality and in good spirit between two sides. Wooburn is a good fixture in the Plough calendar despite its distance from the DSG. All Plough players will be better for the hit out as we embark on a long and exciting season ahead.