15th of May 1948: It was a beautiful day, the sky was pink, shy and graciously clear. Australia scored a world record 721 runs against Essex in a single day. Don Bradman made 187 in 124 minutes hitting 32 boundaries. A full two decades after Bradman spanked 32 boundaries on that eventful day, in 1968, NatWest Bank made its debut.
The question on boundaries in Cricket has since taken many a very different turn. As a conservative cricketer, one can’t help but worry at the prospect of ‘Cow Corner’ being called ‘Vegan Corner’ in the near future.
Fast forward to the 15th of May 2021: The weather was pathetic!
The day reminded us of what it’s like to wait for exam results. The team’s Whatsapp chat was buzzing from early morning. Questions started sprinkling on weather updates, pitch condition, groundsman’s view and the holy grail of all questions, are we playing?
At 11am, Skipper Tisato confirmed that the game was on, by this time most of us had started our journey to Tooting. As we got to the field, the umpires thought it was wise to give it a delayed start and push the start time to 1:30pm. The pitch was wet and Balham and Tooting didn’t have covers.
It was entertaining to see that the Skipper tried his hands at democracy and ask the team if we should bat or bowl first. With 10 self-styled pundits of the game, there was a high degree of vocal wave interference in the air. Skipper Tisato did what a wise man would, ignored everyone and went in to win the toss and decided to bowl – a good decision.
A gloomy sky meant that it was a bowler’s paradise. With bowling options that included Angry Dad Lonnen, Thunder Thighs Wilby, Eye Candy Cassin, Mr. Cricket Tisato, Long Grain Isaac and the Ever Green Ash it was not easy for the skipper to decide on the opening pair. In the end, he decided to open with the best looking blokes of the day – Ash and Isaac it is.
As a kid when I was reading the teachings of the Dalai Lama, one of the precious lines stuck forever with me. He would often say to his followers ‘bowling is all about partnership’.
In that true spirit of partnership, Ash started with the new cherry on one end and Isaac took the other. Isaac, who was playing his first League game for the Plough quite clearly knew a thing or two about managing new leather. Bowling tight line and length, moving the ball, making the batsmen smell the leather on occasions, he was a joy to watch. He was unlucky not to get a second wicket but bowled a magnificent spell. With Isaac squeezing the batters like an Indian street food vendor does a lemon, Ash bowled his classic off stump line with occasional wides and was rewarded with 4 wickets. The pair contained Balham to 31/5 of 12 overs.
He is amazing, this Ash
Lewis replaced Isaac with the ball and bowled a brilliant spell. He was unlucky not to get any scalps which he very much deserved. I am quite sure he would have got wickets had he put his shorts on under his whites. Tom replaced Ash and troubled their most set batsman and had some close LBW shouts. The man has an arsenal of ten thousand variations with the cricket ball and a pain for the batters, a good guy to have on your side on and off the pitch
Bob Hope, KBE once said – “If I’m on the course and lightning starts, I get inside fast. If God wants to play through, let him.”
The panel umpires who are from a similar era took Hope’s words to heart and at the sound of the first thunder, we were sent off the field. The thunders then went on a date to Cloud 9 allowing the eager Plough to come back in. The game was reduced to 35 overs.
Eye Candy (Logan) and Skipper Tis came in to finish Balham’s inning with some exceptional, tight bowling. Eye Candy deserves a special mention for his 2-0-3-1.
In the end, Balham & Tooting were restricted to 113 for 9 off 35 overs. Some credit must go to the skipper on some good bowling changes and field placement to get us a small run chase
The fielding was as always, Plough standard. Tisato, leveraged his extra-long reach to catch the opener at gully, he repeated the same feat at the same position to take out their number 6 bat. F Gumpert took two solid catches at Long on. Suri, made good use of his ping pong shoes to slip a couple of times with one resulting in a runout. Paul Hynes and Eye Candy fielded like cats in the covers. Hamilton, as always was gun with the gloves, assisting a catch off Ash early in the innings.
By the 10th over, the ground was buzzing – the Plough Beer XI had warmed up by then. The Beer XI leaders, consisting of Spence and Jess had emptied CostCo’s G&Ts and were ably joined by beer team veterans The Earl, Trent, broken-finger Barras, Simon, Freeway and beer team prodigy Hopper.
It’s always good to see a bunch of rebels conforming to the government’s direction on helping out to save the country’s beer economy. The way this is going, I am sure we would have complied to the government’s target of 124 pints a year by mid-summer.
On to the batting. 10k Britto and Fred Gumpert (Mouse?) opened the innings for the Plough.
With a batting lineup that had Lonnen at 8/9, a win was clearly in sight. Unfortunately, it was an on and off affair, the sky was flirting to what seemed like an inevitable sad ending for the Plough
You might think that I made this up but on the 15th of May 1928: Mickey Mouse made his 1st ever appearance in silent film ‘Plane Crazy’. Fast forward to the 15th of May 2021, our very own Fred Gumpert debuted in his own silent film by not making any noise with the bat – that is ‘Plain Crazy’!
So, Fred got caught behind to an absolute screamer for nought. Logan join the crease and made 6 not out, ably accompanied by Britto who made 1 not out. One of their bowlers slipped unintentionally (?) and the game was called off.
The Plough contingent then travelled to Ploughmans Cricket Club to what became a marvellous day of one of the many days of a #hotploughsummer.
With Cricket off, the week went on and so did the chats on Whatsapp. Special mention to champion Niraj for raising the profile of Mental Health Awareness Week. Coincidentally, on the 15th of May 1817, the very first private mental health hospital was opened in Philadelphia, they knew it then, so we should know it now. Take care of yourselves and remember, that you will always find a Plough who is willing to listen.
God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.