- L.Connolly – 7 overs, 1 wicket for 24 runs (3.43 RPO)
- S.Crane – 7 overs, 1 wickets for 46 runs (6.57 RPO)
- H. Barnicoat-Hood – 4 overs, 2 wickets for 30 runs (7.50 RPO)
- S.Carson – 3 overs, 1 wicket for 16 runs (5.33 RPO)
- M.Gumpert – 59 runs off 42 deliveries inc. 5 x 4s and 1 x 6s (SR – 140.48)
- R.Maini – 52 runs off 69 deliveries inc. 4 x 4s and 1 x 6s (SR – 75.36)
- H. Barnicoat-Hood – 44 runs off 54 deliveries inc. 5 x 4s (SR – 81.48)
It was the morning after the night before that the Ploughmans X1, engulfed with Euro championship fever in very recent times, made the trip to Actonians Sports Club.
Our dear leader Simon Carson was skippering our away side and was relieved to get a full team out on the park after a few administrative difficulties which cropped up at the end of that week.
For those who are not familiar with such opponents, Actonians Cricket club was first formed in 1922 by a group of old boys from Acton County Grammar School. The venue is located opposite Gunnersbury Park in South Acton, not very far from one of the original Ploughmans CC home grounds during our early days as part of the Middlesex cricketing fraternity.
Both skippers agreed to play 35 overs on a day which proved to be a mixed bag with mother nature throwing up a combination of light drizzles and periods of sunshine percolating through the clouds.
The 1st 10 overs were very difficult for us as the oppo’s opening pair got off to a positive start keeping out good deliveries, running quick singles and dispatching loose bowling to the boundaries particularly on the short side where the pavilion, tea rooms and car parks are situated. One of their openers in particular, Sam Worrall, provided everyone with a batting exhibition much like our recent young recruit Will Stevens who provides class at the top of the order evidenced through outings over at Ashford CC and Sheen Park CC not so long ago.
Once the opening stand ticked past 70 runs for no wicket, we knew we were in for a very long afternoon particularly with vexed difficulties curtailing balls hit towards the short boundary but also chasing those hit towards the long boundary much like patrolling both the Adelaide Oval and the MCG simultaneously.
Wilby and Greeney both put in sterling efforts across 7 overs each and deserved at least a couple of wickets between them. The pair have been outstanding performers this season with the ball and it’s excellent to have their skills base when it comes to seam/swing bowling; hats off to the recruiting department during the off season!
At a time when the visiting side needed a breakthrough, who better to deliver the goods and turn the game on its head than M.Gumpert who relayed a direct hit to the keeper’s end to break the opening stand of 75 runs. Max was arguably the fielder of the match particularly with his orchestration of the off side fielders on both sides as well as his rocket throws from the deep which provided wicketkeeper Lockhart with 1st class service.
With the breakthrough wicket, skipper Carson examined his smorgasboard of bowling options and decided to bring on South Bucks’ sensation Connolly and Kiwi Crane for penetrative seam bowling. With right arm and left arm 1st change bowlers in full swing, there was a collective change in the atmosphere around the ground as we started to find our mojo and tighten the screws as the game looked to be slipping away from us.
Connolly, in particular, had the ball moving on a dime as the ACC middle order struggled to keep their run rate ticking towards 6 rpo. Credit to him in his 1st season for the club as he brings a wealth of value in all cricketing departments particularly against top order batsmen with consistent probing of the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ as well as the 3 stumps in overcast conditions.
Crane also bowled very well with seam bowling which drew back vivid memories of Nathan Bracken for Australia during their haydays in ODIs. With a good temperament, he started nicely not giving away too many freebies and made the batsmen work hard for their runs.
With 3 wickets in the shed and the in form opener en route to a century, Carson rotated the bowlers brilliantly to keep ACC guessing as they eyed the 200 mark in the last 10 overs. Lewis finished strongly with impressive economic figures of 7 overs, 0 wickets for 22 runs. This was followed by very workmanlike spells from Barnicoat-Hood and Carson in the final dozen or so overs when the opposition sides generally up the ante at this point with a flurry of boundaries and quick singles.
Hector in particular bowled superbly, particularly with round the wicket seam bowling to the young left handers who were threatening to pierce the infield on both sides of the wicket much like Max’s brother Fred, a future constable a.k.a. ‘Mouse’ and the pioneer of Thursday night T20s at DSG. A quality run up, combined with a whippy arm action always keeps the batsmen on their toes and compliment his dynamism in the field which we have all come to admire during his 1st couple of seasons.
Over the course of 3 overs, Carson bowled superbly with flight and guile with not too many boundary hitting deliveries offered to the ACC contingent. Along with Hector’s 4 over decorated spell, this proved to be a point of difference by the end of the 35 overs.
With our chins up at the tea break, attention turned to the run chase with the asking run rate 5.23 rpo and a star studded line up featuring talismanic M.Gumpert, fast improving Barnicoat-Hood, recent centurion Julienne and in form Lockhart.
PCC embarked on the run chase with discipline and dash as the top 4 batsmen negotiated good deliveries with the respect deserved, rotated the strike with consummate ease and smoked anything on a silver platter with flair.
Julienne, in particular, was excellent against ACC’s Stuart Broad (Jerome) who ended up with figures of 7 overs, 4 maidens, 1 wicket for 6 runs. Judging by the way he was pacing his innings, Alex was very determined to survive the 1st 10 overs, take off once the 1st change bowlers were brought on and relive his career maiden century not so long ago. Unfortunately, not to be for the Queenslander as he was clean bowled through the gates.
Next in was debutant Rohin who combined with Hector to put on a solid 62 run 3rd wicket partnership. This was a relief for us as we needed a couple of blokes to build the initial platform needed for the 185 run chase in the slightly reduced game.
Rohin has been a wonderful recruit this year via the North Of The River (NOR) net sessions on Tuesday nights and was recommended by our other NOR new recruit Dave a.k.a. DNS during the abbreviated pre-season. Initially, his innings started circumspect but moved very quickly into 2nd and 3rd gears within 6-7 overs illustrated by one front foot hook shot which cleared the car park very convincingly and possibly the trees which surrounded Popes Lane. With Hector batting well at the other end, Rohin didn’t hesitate to go the long handle and put the pressure back on ACC as their mojo started to recede the longer the ball was smashed to the outfield. His career maiden half century in 69 deliveries was definitely a highlight of the day and it was a pleasure to have witnessed it from the bench. Congratulations mate and great to have you on board.
Hector also deserved to go on and make 50 runs as he sailed along very nicely with a breezy 44 runs off 54 deliveries. By his own admission, he felt that it was time to go down swinging given the quality of batting still to come. Nonetheless he did a brilliant job at the top of the order and really set the tone for others to follow. Onwards and upwards mate as a half century looks to be a stone throw away.
1000 runs machine Max was next to come in with the asking rate creeping up well above 5 rpo and the game well and truly in the balance come the half way point. Fortunately, Max has been one of our in-form batsmen this season and we were quietly confident of continued momentum at the top of the order. After a slow start, Max started to find his rhythm with a blend of quick singles and power hitting which made even the long boundaries look as short as those of the Adelaide Oval. With the oppo stunned by his unique walk towards the bowlers running in, the ACC keeper took a leaf out of the Southbank CC book coming up to the stumps with some effect however as talented cricketers do, Max found a way to keep the scoreboard ticking along with thunderbolt running between the wickets. There were a couple of close run out calls to Lockhart who was square leg umpire however no finger was triggered as his bat looked grounded beyond reasonable doubt.
ACC’s resident Sam Curran gradually started to find his feet after a few precarious initial overs leading to a couple of wickets at a time when we needed to go at 6.5 rpo with only a handful of overs left. This was a point of difference in the game as boundaries dried up and dot balls mounted with the last 50 runs becoming a blockbuster/nailbiter for the boundary side spectators.
After a middle order wobble, Lockhart joined Max at the crease to rotate the strike and inject impetus in the run rate as the business end loomed. No better figure to do so as ‘’Posh Tom’’ has started to find his best form over the last month after a quiet start to the season. This was a relief for us as we starred down the barrel of another batting collapse horror show leaving Max isolated without anyone to hold up one end en route to his 50.
With the boundary riders on edge, Max commanded proceedings ploughing on imperviously and reached his half century briskly before acknowledging the rounds of applause from the pavilion to the ACC clubhouse. On reflection, it was a big relief to have his inclusion in the Sunday side at limited notice as without his expertise we would not have been in with a shout against another strong team on their home deck.
Entering the 35th and final over of a whirlwind game, the chase of the last half dozen or so runs became more thrilling; a situation which was easily 50-50 with 2 set batsmen and 2 dogged bowlers operating at both ends. In the end, PCC came away victorious with a skyward clip by Lockhart to deep square leg.
With a very close finish and the heavens staying resolute, we assembled in the al fresco area to enjoy buckets of liquid ambers, raise a glass to the MOTM heroes and celebrate the bucking of the travel hoodoo which quite a few of us have endured in recent Sunday games which have gone against us. Not to discount also the congenial discussions about the prospects of our national football team reaching the final of a major tournament after 55 years of heartache; the holy grail of international football.
Acknowledgements also accorded to our fellow West London ploughmen and Saturday league standouts Tom Lonnen and Ashish Paul who kindly came down at various stages of the day to lend support. It was wonderful to have their presence and we really appreciate the time they gave up on Sunday afternoon to come along for team bonding as well as to share their wisdom of the game particularly when things got a bit more challenging at various stages of the run chase.
A win on the road after a few initial setbacks is a testimony to the bravado and perseverance that has grown this season and a reward for effort particularly over the last few weeks where a lot of matches have gone down to the wire.