Captain Matt Bolshaw walked out to do the toss with the words of Liam Gray ringing in his ears that surely no captain would choose to field first on a day when temperatures made it feel like we were playing at the MCG rather than the DSG. That and the fact that Bec Old Boys CC only had 8 men as the start time of 1pm rolled closer and the stacked home batting line up meant, for once, the Plough would be the ones to go about setting a target.
The decision proved fruitful as the opening partnership of M. Hickson and Britto committed themselves to the task at hand with some powerful stroke play and quick running as the score ticked along at well over a run a ball. So committed in fact was Hickson to the task that he didn’t even leave his ground at the non-strikers end whilst his opening partner lay sprawled on the floor after getting one in the box…
By the time Hickson brought up his 50 off less than 30 balls the opposition looked shell-shocked despite finally getting up to their full quota of fielders. Not long later, the pair brought up the 100 partnership before Hickson sent yet more fielders scurrying to the boundary as he brought up his 100 and then the pair’s 150 partnership. The opposition captain clearly decided it was easier to collect the ball if his fielders were already on the fence and, combined with some good spin bowling, this slowed the run-rate. In turn this brought 3 quick wickets as the Plough went from 171-0 to 178-3 as Hickson (102), Hynes (3) and Britto (48) departed.
However the aggression from the Plough batsmen did not stop there. Gumpert wrestled the initiative back in our favour with his blistering 66* from 42 balls and was supported by Poleboina (26 from 23), between them picking up the baton left by the opening pair. In the latter overs Gumpert’s hitting was ably supported by Tom Lonnen (13*) who ran well to put the field under pressure and allow Gumpert to accelerate the scoring at the other end. This meant the Plough took momentum into the interval posting a score of 283-4 from the 40 overs.
As the second innings began Bec Old Boys started to prove why they are Premier League opposition and, despite one wicket a piece from both the opening pair of Bolshaw and Paul, they kept pace with the required rate of just over 7 an over with some powerful hitting during the opening spell. A change saw Beesley and Lonnen take over and whilst Beesley was unlucky not to take a tough C&B chance, Lonnen bowled superbly for no joy in the wickets columns despite creating a number of tough chances for the Plough fielders – including yours truly! However his 8 overs for 35 runs helped stem the flow and quieten the increasingly raucous Bec supporters.
By this point Hockings had taken over from Beesley at the other end and had begun to make inroads as the scoreboard pressure and pressure applied from the chatter of Plough fielders began to tell. Hockings was well supported in the field with catches being held and returned figures of 3-51 off his 8 overs as the game headed in the home sides direction. However whilst the Bec opener, who by this stage had brought up his 100, remained at the crease there remained an outside chance for Bec who required 100 off the last 10 overs.
Gumpert stepped up to break the partnership with the catch well held by Hynes at long-off and whilst Bec continued to fight, Bolshaw and Paul came back and dealt with the pressure with some accurate wicket-to-wicket bowling to mop up the tail and seal the game. The final wicket was stumped off Bolshaw with 36 runs still needed and 2.2 overs remaining – pleasing no one more than Liam Gray watching over in Amsterdam to know he’s not the only opening bowler this season to take a wicket with a stumping.
Overall it was a cracking game of cricket with 530 runs scored in the day supported by some excellent bowling displays. It also showed the need to stand up and be counted in the field against Premier League opposition as the Plough put pressure back on the opposition batsmen with lots of noise and positive intent when they came on strong in the middle and late overs. A great performance from all involved.