In the week before the game Si had something of a mare, with three corrections to the email instructions about who we were playing and where the ground was. No problem in the end though, we were heading out into leafy Kent.
Getting a full team out seems to have been particularly challenging this year, and things continued to be difficult, with a drop out the day before, and then a drop out from his replacement on the morning of the match. As always the Plough came through, Boydie stood up and we had a full complement. I?m sure people had good reasons, but we really need to think about what it means to let our mates down if we don?t play.
Anyway, issues aside, I have a long but pleasant bus ride into Kent and am strolling up the road to the ground to be met by a very stressed Barraz and Matt B ? apparently there is no game on at that ground today. Confusion reigns for a while, most of the rest of the team arrive in a car, and it slowly becomes clear that while we were at Croydon Lions? home ground, the match was actually in Raynes Park. The car heads off as fast as possible, and after long negotiations with the Oppo, the start of the match is delayed by half an hour, which would be tight, but doable. The Uber turns up for the rest of us, takes one look at the amount of kit we have and says he?s not allowed to take that much stuff. We need to order an Uber XL. Negotiations fail to change his mind, so the XL is ordered, but is 18 minutes away. There is no way the five of us will be there for the start. How this happened will no doubt be the subject to a long committee discussion, so no more will be said here.
Luckily the oppo want to bowl first, so the six plough at the ground for the delayed start time were enough to get the game underway. 15 minutes later the remaining five arrive, and we have a full team.
Against some very tidy bowling the top order fell cheaply, and it was left to Britto and Barraz to shore up the innings with a middle order stand. For 10 overs things looked solid, but another flurry of wickets left the plough 6 down for 69 at drinks. The tail all dug in, stuck around and did a bit of wagging, but the bowling continued to be very tight, and despite a few cameos we went into tea 5 overs early having set 123 to win.
After a decent tea, we went out knowing that everything had to be spot on in the field if we were to have any chance of a victory. Lonnen opened the bowling with real fire, aggression and control, and Bolshaw started picking up wickets from the other end, so there was a game on. At first change the spin twins Duray and Bees came on, both keeping it tight, and Duray picking up a very well deserved five for (surely should have been a jug?), including Enzo the keeper?s first stumping (surely should have been a second jug?), perfectly positioning his field and a confusing moment where the batsman argued his case that he shouldn?t be out despite having been clean bowled. After bowling his overs, Lonnen was brought back into the attack from down the hill, and continued his excellent spell. Confusion reigned when told he was bowled out when all were convinced he had an over left. A scorebook review revealed that despite bowling his nine straight through, Duray had another over left to go. Clearly there had been a mix up here, but the oppo weren?t budging, so we had to go with the scorebook.
Things were getting very tight, the oppo 7 down for 85, and there was a serious game on. One of the openers was still in, and realising it was going to come down to him to score the runs he started to swing his bat a bit more. Bees picked up another wicket getting them 8 down for 111. The number 10 bat was clearly a walking wicket, so it was definitely game on. Unfortunately the opener managed to protect his partner, refused the singles that were offered and hit down the final runs with a lovely six, carrying his bat for a very well made 48 NO.
All in all we didn?t make enough runs to give ourselves a real chance, but to have got so close to a win from that position was testament to a truly exceptional performance in the field, with great bowling and top notch fielding ? lots of aggression and not a chance went down. Sadly it was not to be this week, but it was a bloody good effort!