Taking into consideration the pent up demand for Saturday cricket, it really is wonderful to see the club move forward leaps and bounds affording opportunities to those knocking on the door to play Saturday league cricket.
Under the youthful leadership of Harry Davies, the PCC 3rdX1 have come a fair way across a handful of weeks with the unearthing of fresh talent in the early stages of the season and green shoots of growth as they embarked on securing the first ever Saturday win.
Having endured a narrow loss not so long ago, much of the contingent were keen as mustard for the tide to turn.
Saturday May the 21st presented a fresh new opportunity over at the HA1 surrounds of West Harrow Recreation Ground with Ploughmans CC 3rd X1 taking on new opposition YarlCC.
The day started off with plenty of banter on the WhatsApp group chat with the chorus lines lead by:
Hanzi – ‘’Harry you normally have every little detail in the bio, what’s happening skip?’’
Greg – ‘’Fucking hell man, get a move on’’ (with reference to Giordy’s whereabouts pin drop in the last hour before kick off)
No doubt the skipper was feeling the day got off to a bright start, especially when the game had to be abbreviated by 5 overs per side to allow for even last minute headaches trying to find peak hour parking in an establishment which could easily be mistaken for Brent Cross shopping centre on Boxing Day.
With the toss won, PCC elected to field. DJ Rick and Greg ‘htfru’ Willis opened proceedings akin to Anderson and Broad in the 1st test match at Lords putting the ball consistently in the right channels and at times catching the batsmen hopping higher than a frog in a saucepan. Greg in particular punished those Fantasy League captains who regrettably gave him the sack not so long ago by making his mark over a very decorated and economic spell of 7 overs yielding 3 wickets (3.14 rpo). At the other end, DJ Rick a.k.a. Gazza took to his 7 over spell like a duck to water consistently probing the corridor of uncertainty much like league counterpart Puff Paul finishing with exceptional figures of 1-23 (3.29 rpo).
Joey Anderson, the new kid on the block fresh from the sunshine state of Queensland, was the 1st change of bowler for PCC with the score barely past 50 runs and the oppo starring down the barrel of the mother of all pastings on home soil. Inspired by Warnie, the larger than life king of spin, Joey had the ball spinning on a dime with revolutions faster than the speed of light. Undoubtedly the start of many great things to come for the debutant as the batsmen were bamboozled by his leg spin, wrong’uns and top spins which either went through their gates, trapped them plum lbw or found the edge straight through to our resident keeper Ben. So extraordinary were the deliveries, the only way some of the YCC contingent could comprehend what had happened was by trying to make a joke…just ask Graham Gooch “If it had been a cheese roll it would never have got past him.”
Justin Cash had a couple of challenges with line and length in his 1st couple of overs however settled in nicely with a few leaves out of the Nathan Lyon spin book. Full credit to the 2ndyear Ploughman especially when the chips were down and the batsmen were going down town as well as across it with no end in sight; JC worked hard for the prized wicket of the YCC no. 5 who was threatening a move towards a quarter of a century.
Just when PCC was on the verge of early teas, YCC put on a brave 10th wicket partnership to get past 100 runs. The last wicket proved rather difficult as the ball was smoked to many parts of the ground whether it was seam up or top spin. Harry did try a couple of creative options including himself for a bit of medium pace and Rehan for off spin which eventually yielded dividends with one of the tailenders eventually getting himself out.
The innings break provided a smorgasboard for everyone to enjoy as sandwiches, crisps, chocolates, teas and coffees were enjoyed out on the lawn by both camps. Hats off to YCC for the hospitality as such opportunities certainly save time frantically searching for the nearest Sainsbury for a picnic basket particularly in these ‘interesting’ times of grocery price inflation.
With afternoon teas done and dusted, attention turned to the small run chase with an asking run rate slightly below 4 rpo. Harry contemplated a couple of different batting line ups during the tea break and felt that it was important to get the line up right.
Hanzala Shaffique and Max Wright opened up against a pair of pacers who were well and truly inspired by the TFC pioneers/podcast chiefs Matt Bolshaw and Liam Gray, evidenced by figures of 1.75 rpo and 1.50 rpo respectively; obsessed with line and length. Both batters had to work hard for their runs which weren’t easy to come by with Shaffique playing an anchor role at No.1 across the first 5 overs. Wright did a good job in a supporting role guarding his wicket and will no doubt achieve success with more opportunities over time.
Ben Fletcher, in his 1st season for PCC, has been a prime pickup and an outstanding recommendation from friend of the TFC show Hector. With his maiden century in a handful of games, Fletch can build an innings much like the crescendo from an orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. Additionally, he provides Fantasy League selectors with an alternative option in the wicketkeeper department (ignore at your peril!). This was reinforced by a wonderfully well executed 57* off only 9 overs featuring 9 boundaries…how easy is cricket? Jokes aside, he’s a great motivator on the field encouraging and motivating others at the non strikers’ end when partnerships are vital leading into the pointy end of an innings when the game hangs in the balance during a middle order wobble.
Rehan Raees looked on course to match the good deeds of Fletch with 2 excellent boundaries only to be undone by a miscue to the infield. Nonetheless a big innings is around the corner for the 2nd year cap as more opportunities will present themselves.
With tremors running through the PCC camp, Joey came on to support Fletch and eventually take the game away from the flaky home side whose bowlers were running out of ideas and finesse. 3 ‘stand and deliver’ shots to the boundary would have made Andrew Symonds exceptionally proud up there in the heavens.
In summary, a great day out capped off with a win against new opposition YCC with outstanding contributions in bowling and batting departments. A maiden win which Harry can be justifiably proud off as skipper of the Saturday 3rd X1 which is in its infancy.
With a win on the road done and dusted, it was all roads leading to the unofficial PCC watering hole stationed at Clapham Junction a.k.a. The Plough for liquid convivials and farewells for all rounder, legend, webmaster, stats guru and veteran James Tisato who sadly leaves U.K to return to Australia for a new beginning with a young family. Fair winds and following seas mate!