It’s Sunday, the day is already warm outside and despite the uncomfortable heat in my room I don’t want to move. My head hurts, I feel sick, if I lie very still, maybe it will go away. Slowly I conclude this ain’t going to get better. My first game of the season will be impeded by an undeserved hangover and in horrible bright sunshine.
A morning tactical and a cold shower cleansed my soul enough to reveal another feeling. Hunger. The journey to Bromley would require a visit to the pharmacy & a sandwich shop.
As the 320 bus left Bromley training station a picture of the ground arrived from Kesh. It looked beautiful, green outfield, white picket fence, a little stream lines by trees, electronic scoreboard, kids play area… & ADVERTISING! This club, in a posh London suburb, has money and clearly take life seriously. Bugger… clubs like this tend to be good. Oh well, last minute pool matches throw up total mismatches sometimes. Let’s hope Liam wins the toss and bats. Let’s just get rolled and spanked so this finishes quickly. It’s hot and fielding with a headache in this heat might be the end of me.
I get to the ground (a little) late. Noodle shouts that we are fielding get changed quickly (very late). I’m doomed, this could be embarrassing. As we take our fielding positions I’m thinking, this sunblock is making me sweat even more, where can I go if I need to be sick again. Arrrh, why didn’t I lose some weight over winter. Getting old, why do I still play cricket?
As captain, Liam took the first over (down the hill) and bowled with great accuracy. The opening bats gave due respect throughout Liam’s opening spell of 6 over. Very tidy & frugal.
At the other end Oli ran in with testosterone pumping through his young veins. This Plough has proper pace and a couple of chances flew to Jon at fly slip, unfortunately always out of reach. Oli’s spell lasted 4 overs, but there were several extra deliveries and in the heat these added unnecessarily to his workload. Thankfully the ball had made a couple of trips to the little stream, had lost its hardness and so was no longer racing across the outfield.
Silva took over up the slop and helped to tighten things up. Now there was pressure to score at both ends and soon their No 2 chipped Liam into the safe hands of his bowling partner. It was 70-1 and after accepting the teams praise, Liam did a captain’s duty of stating “we’re still in it!” There were about 30 overs (over 2 hours) of being in the field remaining of their innings. Oh dear.
Boyd replaced Liam but couldn’t buy a wicket. The bats didn’t take on the long boundary to Grant at square leg or Nick at cow but chose to get them running back and forth taking 1’s or 2’s. Eventually their 3 creamed my offie (that didn’t spin) then my leggie (that didn’t spin) for four through extra cover off consecutive balls. Time for a change, not my day.
Nigel got them playing offside while Silva continued to work hard up the hill. By this point the atmosphere on the pitch was excellent with a bit of banter between both clubs. They continued to fall short of boundaries, partly due to solid fielding and partly due to lack of batsman power (apparently both have now joined the local gym).
(My first Plough captain would now say something about how this game would eventually demonstrate the importance of not bowling boundary balls, probably all in CAPITALS).
After drinks Nigel got one past their No 1 and bowled him for 60, he looked a bit tired after running between the wickets. 157-2 “if we keep them below 240 then we’re in this boys!”, shouted someone ambitiously.
Then things started to go our way. Noodle took over up the hill while Nigel continued at the other end. Is wasn’t long before their 3 let the ball pass down leg side while just out his ground, as fast as anything Kesh had wiped of the bails. BOOM great glove work!
Kesh struck again at the other end! Helping Nigel to his second. 179-4 and about 10 overs left. After a short spell from Grant it was time for Silva & Liam to return.
The final few overs were a battle as the Plough fought to tie them down and they tried to bludgeon us for runs. Silva picked up another couple towards the end. A caught & bowled that looped to short cover, he called for it early, clearly not trusting his teammates from the Northern Hemisphere. Then in the final over… BOOM Kesh takes his THIRD stumping. That Plough has quick hands.
231 to chase, maybe a tad heavy, but under 6 an over if we could smash a few to the boundary then we’re in the game.
Nice sandwiches, proper chunk of chicken and POTATO SALAD! Hangover virtual gone I took a second plated to the scoring shed. There were cakes too, I didn’t sample. Savory lad, nuff said.
Nigel joined me as de facto digital score. Others hid in the cool shed trying to shirk a stint officiating.
Leon popped down to spectate & give encouragement, his daughter kept my bottle full of icy water. Much appreciated both.
By this stage those non-playing members seemed well oiled on WhatsApp. We’re rocking new media now.
Oli opened (the batting as well as bowling, captain’s favourite) and set about ploughing it through the covers or fick it past an absent fine leg.
Unfortunately, Jon got a golden… LBW Welcome to the club, these things happen (I can’t remember who gave him).
Oli was joined by Ovens and things started to hum, the scoreboard spin and the match warm up. We needed to keep up with the rate (a big electronic scoreboard helps get the message across, especially when updated ball for ball) and the right risks were being taken. Just after getting into positive territory Oli was stumped for 44. 50 next time!
Lockhart looked fantastic, he always does, especially with his new bat. After a delightful one bounce 4 Tom saw the finger of doom too. LBW for only 6. Shame he couldn’t keep going.
Then (despite scoring) I don’t know what happened. Ridgway is out! Was he caught, was he stumped, anyone? What happened? Only after the match do I find out it was LBW. There was a lot of pressure to give something from the middle.
All this time Ovens was cooking at the other end. He was looking good at 48* and was joined by Wolledge. These were the power overs and the pair hit a rapid 52 (Wolledge 33, Ovens 19*). Grant had hit 4 boundaries in is usually relaxed effortless manner before being stumped, the 5th of the match.
Wanigasekere having irritated an injury while keeping put down the ice pack and picked up the bat. 60 off 5.4 required. The ball needed to go to the boundary and with a couple of hitters yet to bat it was a case of all or nothing. Immediately after sending the ball to the grassy knoll for 4 Kesh chipped one back to the bowler.
Silva took his guard at the crease with 54 needed off 26 balls. It was time to kick into T20 gear and with Ovens 67* he was ready to use the?long handle! 1 1 6 4 1 1 (14 off an over) GAME ON with Ovens finding his range.
. b 1 1 6 1 GO CHRIS (either)! COME ON THE PLOUGH! Silva showing some power too.
30 off 12 balls. Liam is stalking the boundary with his pads on, hoping these boys bring it home. The whole club is watching the new app (apart from Duray who’s sending drunk messages).
2 2 BOOM another 6 for Ovens! leaving 17 needed off the final over. This could be close. Can Ovens get his maiden tonne?
SMASH! Oh no, will it be taken. Out!? Caught at long on, just inside the boundary, fielders hands above head and feet so close to the rope. 92! What a knock, selfless to the end.
Silva hits the next across the boundary to keep a ray of hope. 13 off 4. Surely today’s captain will give it a whack…
Match over. ESCC win by 8 run, but it doesn’t matter.
Fucking love cricket! Fucking love my Ploughmans!
What a game and we could have done it, the oppo were a great bunch of lads too… also only 3.80 a pint in their clubhouse. For so many reasons we should keep this fixture. They seemed keen too.
See you next week. Plough On!