Ashford CC vs Ploughmans CC (Away) Sun 23th May 2021

Match Report

M.Gumpert – 44 runs off 23 deliveries inc. 4 x 4s and 2 x 6s (SR – 191.30)
* Career milestone – > 1000 runs for the club *
G. Willis – 34 runs off 34 deliveries inc. 4 x 4s (SR – 100.00)
S. Poleboina – 10 runs off 15 deliveries inc. 1 x 4s (SR – 66.67)

G.Willis – 5 overs, 1 wicket for 27 runs (5.40 RPO)
N.Stephenson – 5 overs, 2 wickets for 31 runs (6.20 RPO)
S.Carson – 0.5 overs, 1 wicket for 6 runs (7.20 RPO)

Led by our dear leader, Simon Carson, on Sunday 23/05/21, PCC Blue team took on Middlesex
powerhouse Ashford Cricket Club (ACC) on their home soil situated only a stone’s throw from
Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 in Short Lane, Stanwell, a suburban village and civil parish in the
Borough of Spelthorne, 16 miles west of central London.

With origins dating back to 1855, ACC are an elite outfit with a very high standard of cricket based on
their ‘claire fontaine’ of local talent coupled with a steady stream of overseas players, mainly
Antipodeans since 1981.

Considering the UK has had arguably the wettest May since records in 1862, the match looked well
and truly on thin ice with the weather forecast doing frequent rounds on the WhatsApp blue team
subgroup chat across that week setup by our Development Officer and 2020 clubman of the year
Liam Gray.

It was close to start time (1.30pm) that centre of the ground deliberations with the opposition
skipper (Jamie) took place with the odd sky perusal to ascertain what was potentially in stall over the

course of the afternoon. Eventually, it was agreed to play a reduced 30 overs per side match which
we all took on board like a duck to water given that many of our guys had travelled long distance by
road and rail from other parts of London which is a testament to their dedication to play despite the
dampening weather conditions.

With our dual umpires and boundary line scorers all ready to go, it was down to our ‘hat-trick’ half-
centurion T.Lane and Will, his long time compatriot from up north to get our innings underway on a

very difficult wicket against the ACC’s exemplary pace bowling pair.

In light of the far less than ideal conditions, the pair really did an outstanding job negotiating good
deliveries, keeping their wicket and rotating the strike on a rain soaked outfield which made
boundaries extremely hard to come by. With a very strong caliber of middle order batting to come,
we felt at the time that survival of the opening bowling spells and keeping wickets in hand was
crucial during the 1st half a dozen or so overs prior to considering any form of acceleration.

Just as our opening partnership was starting to gather traction, the opening stand was unfortunately
unlocked after 5 overs as the oppo’s #1 left arm pace bowler got one through the gates of Will.
Whilst disappointing, the new recruit has definitely made a promising start to his 1st season with PCC
with excellent opening cameos in recent times which have involved considerable patience, a sound
technique and a good defence; hallmarks of a quality opening batsman.

Tom worked hard to keep his wicket under the unrelenting cloudy conditions and the signs were
promising for our run machine as we admired his square of the wicket shots all of which, on a
conventional day, would have easily cleared the rope. Despite his dogged efforts to clear the infield,
the 1st change bowler unfortunately dismissed him after a few ‘nearly moments’ of play and miss. To
his credit though, Tom has been in excellent nick during pre-season nets and has backed it up with a
tremendous start to the season providing us with renewed optimism at the top of the order. He will
bounce back very soon as the summer properly dawns on us as we look forward to seeing his talent
on show. Much like his understudy Will, patience at the crease and scoring zone know-how will
definitely pay off for him as this season evolves.

With more ominous dark clouds gathering overhead and a couple of unheralded appearances by
mother nature, a few ‘boundary riders’ were summoned onto the ground to assist the ACC
contingent to wheel the pitch covers on as the innings surpassed the quarter way mark. At this
point, both skippers reconvened at the clubhouse veranda to further deliberate and renegotiate the
rain reduced format resulting in an agreement to play a 25 overs per side game. Considering that the
rain was not going to hold off for much of the afternoon, it was certainly an ambitious call but the
right one which gave us all a rainbow of hope that the game will run its course.

With the crisis averted, it was back to business for our visiting X1 as our longtime Ploughman N.Khan
and centurion Suri converged in the middle to build our 2nd platform for the afternoon. The revised

format looked to be very well suited to our fast improving keeper/batsman who has shown fantastic
form at the nets and backed it up with formidable scores during the first month of the new home
and away season of 2021. With a strong piece of willow and a great array of shots on both sides of
the wicket, Suri negotiated some good length deliveries initially and then wasted no time getting off
the mark with good selection of gaps in the field (1s and 2s) as well as some clean hitting down the
ground to bring back vivid memories of his first ever PCC century down at Chiddingstone CC.
Unfortunately, the excitement and anticipation was curtailed by ACC’s skilful and economical 2nd
change of bowler whose persistent seam bowling off only a handful of steps brought about his lbw
dismissal which was a hard pill to swallow as Suri was starting to find his 2nd and 3rd gears at a time
when we needed to go at 7/8 runs an over as the half way mark beckoned.

With the scoreline at 4/36, we needed a hero as Max strode to the crease destined to build upon his
rich vein of form this season so far. Ably supported by his deputy Nasser, the strike was rotated with
consummate ease. This was a relief for us as we needed to stem the tide to give ourselves a chance
of posting a defendable total. To his credit, Nasser did very well to keep his wicket, clip the ball
around where the gaps were available and give our 2020 batting trophy winner as much of the strike
as possible. Unfortunately for Nasser, the good start across 2 overs was cut short by ACC’s
purposeful and zippy bowling which went through his gates.

Greg then combined with Max after a brief pep talk to carefully resurrect the innings at a time when
the game was slipping away from us. Much to our relief, the 5th wicket partnership formed the
centrepiece of our total for the afternoon as the ACC fielding began to lose its intensity and stability
particularly in the inner ring. As one of our most in form batsmen so far this year, Max went long,
strong and skyward entertaining not only ourselves at boundary side but also the opposition
contingent who were left bereft of ideas as the match ball was regularly dispatched to the outer
vegetation slightly separating the ACC ground from the local residential roads of Stanwell. During the
course of 23 deliveries, Max notched up his 1000th run for our club which is a fantastic achievement
in only his 2nd season – Massive congratulations mate, well deserved and keep up the great work.

Much to the skipper’s delight, Greg’s elevation to #6 paid off as he was starting to look very
comfortable and promising to watch across a decorated 5.5 overs. His inspiration from Max was
certainly on display as he didn’t hesitate to go big when the ball was there to be hit for a boundary
but he also confidently tested out the fielders with cheeky quick singles which would have frustrated
the ACC skipper a fair bit as his sub-ordinates kept things fairly tight throughout the afternoon.

Just as Max was on his way to a fast 50, a skied ball found the hands of one of ACC’s strategically
placed long on patrollers who took a very good catch under the exceptionally tricky overcast
conditions. Bad luck indeed as PCC was finding its mojo and looking good for a respectable and
defendable total.

With Greg our last of the recognised batsmen at the crease and on course for his 1st 50 for the club,
we remained hopeful of having enough momentum to plough on and accelerate towards the 150
runs mark. Unfortunately for Greg, he was stumped trying valiantly to lift the run rate.

With the tail wagging slightly, we ended up on 128 runs which was nothing to sneeze at and it would
have taken a very good run chase to navigate towards given our 6 pronged bowling arsenal featuring
a blend of pace, spin, youth and experience.

After a short innings break, PCC assembled out on the park with Greg and Dan Rumford opening our
bowling proceedings. Both lads bowled very well keeping things very tight not allowing the batsmen
to free their arms easily. Greg in particular persistently bowled in the wicket taking channels to both
ACC right handers and was rewarded with a wicket in the infancy of his 5 over spell. Dan also bowled
consistently well but was unrewarded over his 5 over spell as we guarded the inner ring well but also
patrolled the boundaries exceptionally well also with credit to Will for his poise at all parts of the
park as he no doubt saved a few runs in the deep.

As the opening bowlers’ spells came to an end, our skipper brought on our 1st changes with Crane
and Stephenson operating at both ends across the next half a dozen overs. The combination of the
former’s left arm pace bowling and Nigel’s talented & trusted leg spin bowling was a great call as we
had to try and contain the ACC run rate in this abbreviated contest. Nigel particularly found his
groove after a challenging first couple overs putting the ball in the hard to hit channels and bringing
to the fore all the fielders on the inner ring. The pep talk from our skipper certainly paid off as Nigel
found the confidence to redeem himself and string together a very commendable 5 overs whilst
achieving 2 wickets; Pleasing to see that our much loved effervescent Sunday leg spin bowler is
starting to discover his form which saw him rise just over a couple of years ago to the top echelon of

Carson also did a wonderful job to secure the wicket of one of ACC’s middle order batters who was
very green to the crease. Although the match was in the dying stages, our skipper did his best to
keep the game alive particularly when our best bowlers of the day were limited to 5 over quotas. No
hesitation to say that given another 5-10 overs, Carson would have been all over the ACC lower
order with his off breaks full of flight and guile.

Massive high fives also accorded to Suri who proved to be a very valuable addition before the game
as the team’s permutations were worked through up until the morning of the match due to a few
unfortunate injury dropouts and one unforeseen vehicle misadventure. Whilst disappointed with his
short lived batting innings, he well and truly compensated for this with his zeal behind the stumps
and excellent glovework which we have come to know over the last year. Keep up the great work
and keep the fantasy league team managers on their toes!

Whilst acknowledging the collective disappointment of falling short on the day, there are green
shoots of growth and valuable learning points to take away from facing a strong team on their home

Credits and MOTM honours to the following:
1 – Skipper Simon Carson for the courage and creativity to persist with the game albeit 25 overs a
2 – Max Gumpert for his 1000th run milestone for our club and swashbuckling innings which helped
us get back on course
3 – Greg Willis for a fantastically well executed middle order cameo to help stem the tide when the
chips were down and for the best economic bowling spell all afternoon
4 – Nigel Stephenson for 5 overs of perseverance rewarded by 2 wickets
5 – Lewis Wilby for kindly braving the weather to give us boundary side support across a challenging

Onwards and upwards.

Niraj ‘Tolstoy’ Tailor

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