Our third league game of the year against Spelthorne started positively, with the first Plough to arrive greeted with bright sunshine and the Hollies in fantastic condition. The work done over winter by the fine people of the DSG has really paid off – both the square and outfield look spectacular compared to previous years. Unfortunately it didn’t last – before long the rain came down, the pitch softened up without covers and it was clear we weren’t going to start on time.
After several pitch inspections (by 11 very keen Ploughmen and a handful of not-so-keen oppo), we eventually got underway with the overs reduced to 33 each. Spelthorne won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to bowl.
Britto and Campbell started us off and runs were hard to come by. Timing the ball and keeping it on the ground on such a sticky wicket proved difficult and the oppo bowled tight lines and lengths. Steve fell LBW early on, followed soon after by Ovens who smashed one straight down long off’s throat.
Stu held the innings together from the other end as Barras and myself both went cheaply. He ended up with a well-made 25, soaking up a lot of balls and setting some sort of a platform for the middle order. Even still, when he chipped one to midwicket we were 64-5 from 22 and we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us to make something defendable.
Stu’s departure brought together Logan Cassin (on his Plough debut) and Silva for what turned out to be the crucial partnership in our innings. Logan suddenly made it look like a different game. Confident stroke play, timing it very well despite the pace of the pitch, he started steadily and then accelerated hard in the last 5 overs. With some powerful straight hitting and classy shots through cover, he was eventually bowled off one that didn’t bounce in the penultimate over for 56 off 42 balls. He middled more balls with that awful club bat than all previous users combined.
At the other end, Silva provided excellent support via a quickfire 19, rotating the strike well, running hard and generally frustrating the oppo. Wonderful effort lads – that partnership got us back in the game and gave us a respectable total of 141.
The sun stayed out over the tea break, and the pitch dried out considerably for the oppo innings. However, we knew that if we bowled tightly we had a good chance as the wicket was still likely to do a bit for us.
The Spelthorne openers began to tee off immediately, not even trying to hit it on the ground – probably a good idea given how many of us were caught trying (and failing) to play along the ground in the first innings. Grayzer and Stu bowled well though and eventually Liam rattled the stumps for our first pole. Stu bowled very tightly and deserved a wicket or two but was not rewarded.
The other opener and their number three steadily built up the score with ones and twos and the occasional boundary, helped along by some wayward bowling from McEwen and myself. We bowled far too many wides and both need to work on our radar at the nets in the coming weeks. Spelthorne were 73-1 after 17 and appeared to be cruising to victory.
Out of nowhere, the breakthrough came when the #3 mishit a cover drive and skied it between cover and point. Sprinting to his left, Logan dived full length, stuck out his left hand and somehow plucked it an inch off the turf – another incredible catch by a Kiwi Ploughman. With the number 4 falling LBW a few balls later, suddenly they were 75-3 and the momentum had shifted.
Parrish and Barras came on in an attempt dry up the runs and lift the required run rate, given how little pace there was in the wicket for the slow bowlers. There were no more wickets for a while but the runs did come slowly, the fielding was superb, and we ground our way back into a potentially winning position.
At 122-3 off 29, with the oppo needing 20 to win off the last four overs, Stu returned and Silva entered the fray. Stu was absolutely superb, taking 2-2 off his final two overs – full, straight and impossible to get away. Ovens took two excellent catches behind the stumps as well. Silva bowled well and was unlucky to concede a couple of streaky boundaries, but we did manage to pick up their opener for 48 with yet another run out to Barras (after dropping the catch on the same ball – never run on a misfield!)
It all came down to Spelthorne needing 11 to win off the last over. Silva steamed in and didn’t concede a boundary, but with some 1s and 2s and a couple of extras, they got it down to 3 to win off the last ball. The oppo batsman masterfully mistimed a drive off the toe of the bat, putting it right between mid wicket and long on. As they scrambled back for two, our run out attempt was in vain and the game finished tied on 141 a piece.
Even though the oppo were cruising at one point and we looked no chance, the way we came back into the contest really made it feel like we’d let this one slip at the end. It became an even tougher pill to swallow when we found out that in the event of a tie on runs, in our league the team losing fewer wickets (in this case Spelthorne) is declared the winner. A truly gutting finish to a very good game of cricket, both teams agreeing that it deserved to remain a tie.
Despite the final outcome, I am hugely proud of the way we worked our way back into a winning position through good bowling, fielding and energy as a unit. It’s a testament to the way we work together on the field to get wickets when the oppo describe us as “making persistent noise on the field and really getting into the head of the batsman”. It almost got us over the line today, but in the end we needed to bowl a bit tighter (extras should not make up 20% of their total!) and adjust more quickly to the batting conditions when it’s wet.
All in all, it was a difficult day but a very tense and enjoyable game of cricket. We’ve shown we’re more than good enough to win a lot of matches in Div 1 of the league – onwards and upwards to our next league game against Commonwealth.
- Batting – Logan 56, Stu 25, Silva 19
- Bowling – Stu 2/19, Tisato 2/23, Gray 1/31
Man of the match
Logan for his 56 and incredible catch. Stu was unlucky to miss out here – an excellent knock with the bat and superbly tight bowling, particularly at the death.
Dick of the day
Me – for not enforcing the league rule of automatically winning the toss when the oppo has fewer than 7 players 15 minutes prior to scheduled starting time…and subsequently losing the toss so we needed to bat on a difficult, wet wicket.