The clouds skittered across an azure sky in a game of peekaboo with a shy sun as skipper for the day Leon ?Royal? Parks lost the toss and we were put in as Morden fancied a chase. Spoiler alert, this was an error.
Six of the oppo and two umpires took to the field. The Morden 6 and umps were still standing around 10 minutes later as the remaining 5 Mordenites took their own sweet time in getting their collective arses in gear before crossing the rope. At precisely 13.49, with some muttered apologies for tardiness from the keeper, we began what was to become a rollercoaster of a match featuring half centuries, A Perfect Yorker, a towering 6, crisply driven 4?s aplenty, some fine bowling, some absolute dross, A Perfect Yorker, a facial injury, bravery above and beyond the call of duty, A Perfect Yorker, and catches aplenty both taken or otherwise.
Not sure I?ve mentioned A Perfect Yorker, but there was one of those as well.
The match began brightly, with James ?needs a club name? Spence and MC Hamer starting proceedings. A first ball four augured well, indeed the partnership flourished with MC dealing only in boundaries and Spence giving a display of batting correctness that would have had Geoffry Boycott positively tumescent with pleasure. The positive start came to a shuddering halt as MC fell to a lifter and a turner that clipped the top of off, bringing out Skipper Royal Parks.
Shortly thereafter the game pace receded somewhat, due in part to some sedate but accurate bowling, in other parts to Spence protecting his wicket after being dropped off a dolly in the covers, and Parks just protecting his wicket. At one point the keeper loudly pointed out it had been 11 balls since the last run, looking immensely proud of himself for counting that high. No small achievement for someone who apparently can?t tell the time. As the somnambulant pace threatened to become fully catatonic Spence jolted into life, pulled a 6 that came down with snow on it, drove a few more textbook correct 4?s before serving up a second dolly that wasn?t refused.
Off he trots for a well-rounded 44, swapping places with Tim ?Ploughman Debut? Hopgood. He hadn?t played a game for two years, his shirt telling the same story having apparently spent the time scrunched in a ball in his kit bag, now resembling a relief map of Nepal. But this disheveled appearance masked a steely core, and after a watchful start showed Rolex timing to dispatch the cherry to all points. Skipper Parks succumbed to LBW on 28, although not without raising a critical eyebrow to Umpire Uncle due to the fact that he was so far down the track he was almost sharing a crease with Hoppy. Out of adversity comes strength, although not this time as Posh Tom had his house dismantled on 3, trudging back grumbling something about bounders, cads and rotters. Enter the Grayzer, supporting the now fully loosened Hoppy by pushing and nurdling towards a very handy 26, Hoppy ending on a debut 54, both unbeaten.
Ploughmen 181 ? 4.
Tea came and went with the usual efficiency, warm sausage rolls being a highlight for your correspondent.
Gray and Prasad opened the bowling. Tight lines were the order of the day, Gray in particular being very economical all afternoon, but some good shots from Gumbert B kept the scoreboard ticking while Gumbert F (Gumbert and Gumbert opening, are we sure about that scorer?) contrived to get himself run out off a tracer bullet return from James on the boundary. Gumbert B soldiered on to 30 before falling to Harry by way of Uncles grab at short fine leg. A pattern for the innings was set, with starts being made but not capitalized on and wickets falling every time it looked like getting away from us. We were churning through the bowlers, 8 used in all, but the variety paid dividends when MC rolled in and got one to sky which was bagged at mid-on by Skipper Parks, and Uncle rattled the sticks to break another budding partnership.
Morden dug in and threatened, so Skipper Parks changed up again and called upon your correspondent for some left arm optimistic. After a true and straight first ball served notice, the second was A Perfect Yorker. Pitching on the back foot and beating the batsman for pace i.e. he expected it to arrive 5 minutes before it eventually did, and crashed into middle of middle. It really was a beauty, the poor man didn?t stand a chance, and it obviously had them rattled because two balls later a well-set on 31 batsman hared off up the track after a gently nurdle to Uncle in covers, who had about half an hour to lobb it back to Posh Tom for the easiest run out this year. Your correspondent reverted to type after 3 overs and received the shepherds crook to make way for new boy Ethan ?Also needs a club name? Smith and some more wheeling from a Harry and AJ.
Special mention must go to debutant Tim ?Hoppy? Hopgood, who stood proud and erect at cow under a towering hit that approached him very quickly. Too quickly as it turned out, because the ball went straight through his hands and crashed into his cheekbone, felling him like Klitschko in the 12th. After being administered to by 14 budding medics who were collectively sod all use to him, he took himself off for some self-medication, possibly some catching practice, and after a bit of a rest he returned, stoic in his countenance, to take an almost carbon copy catch a couple of balls later, off a deserving AJ, using his one remaining good eye. Such grit and backbone serves as an example to us all.
With 10 overs to go they were motoring and we were in grave danger of being chased down. Enter the Grayzer Part II. With AJ at t?other end containing, Grayzer got his reward for his earlier parsimony and eased every Ploughmans growing concern by removing the last two threats, bowled and LBW. Him, AJ and a single sharply turning over from Jimmy Spence ran down the last remaining overs. 169-9.
In the long evening shadows The men of the Plough enjoyed a beer or two from a jug courtesy of the new young?uns. Hoppys jugs for debut 50 & catch were held in abeyance due to his understandable reliance on painkillers and some quite alarming swelling.
A cracking win with everyone contributing.