As the London summer made a final September showing, a fine group of Ploughmen captained by the swashbuckling Suri made their way to Barnes to take on The Barnes Common Cricket Club. A lovely ground surrounded by bush, it looked to be a track made for runs with the square seeming to sit on a small crest in the middle of the ground, with a hard sloping outfield running away either side.
Initial conversations with the Barnes skipper gave the impression that they wanted a bat, touting a strong 300+ runs batting line up. Suri didn’t take too kindly to this intimidation tactic – ensuring he won the toss and giving the Plough a bat to show them how it’s done.
Debutant Nasir put his hand up to open the batting, and after asking for some throwdowns from Hopper and promptly pumping all three balls he got deep into the bushes for Hopper to fetch, he walked off with Iskander to get some runs on the board (Alpha move – take note boys).
Barnes opened up with some tidy bowling, and the Barnes skipper instantly remembered Iskaders penchant for the dab to third man from a previous match, and put two men there before he could milk that area for runs. Nasir had a watchful opening spell, getting his eye in before crunching a bad ball with an exquisite cover drive, only for it to be taken with an equally impressive diving one handed catch at cover. A talented batsman, with more runs to come for Nasir in the future for sure.
Adam Barraclough came in next, and with Iskander at the crease they made a strong opening partnership, scoring runs around the ground until Iskander unfortunately got caught out by what was looking like a two paced pitch, with a ball sneaking under the bat and hitting the wickets – leaving the Plough 68/2 after 15 overs.
Adeel and Barras looked to steady the ship, playing watchfully as Barnes dried up the run rate in the middle overs with some very tidy bowling from one of their spinners, constantly angling it into the leg stump and making it difficult to get away. Adam however kept him out and pushed through to a classy 50 runs with a highlight being a beautiful flick off the knee roll for a one bounce 4 at square leg, before being caught on 54.
Rob and Suri looked to up the run rate but were unfortunate to get bowled in single digits on what was turning into a tricky pitch to bat on. Chris Roden Smith put on a quick fire 22 with Adeel finishing on an obvious jug avoidance 49 after being run out in the second to last over and being dropped the ball before. After 40 overs, The Plough scored 201/6, a defendable total for sure if we bowled tight and broke through early.
The Plough opened up the bowling with Chris Roden-Smith, who displayed what can only be described as an absolutely beautiful spell of bowling, using the two paced pitch to his advantage and making the ball do absolute bits #obsessedwithlineandlength. Never have I seen an opening batsman flash at so many balls and miss. Chris’s first two overs were maiden’s, with the batsman finally connecting with his first runs, a 4 only after 15 dot balls.
Hopper opened up from the other end with equally tidy bowling, and was unlucky to miss out on a wicket after their gun opening batter sky’d one to square leg, clearly looking to get going after being frustrated by CRS at the other end.
CRS eventually got the breakthrough he deserved, with one nibbling off the pitch and clattering into the stumps in his 6th over.
Adeel “The Dealer” Riaz and Adam Barraclough were brought on to make further inroads, and with a gun Barnes opening batsman beginning to make some headway towards the total, Adeel was unlucky not to get him first ball of the spell as he looked to pump one down the ground, hitting Adeel’s outstretched hand at pace and popping out.
Spin to win was the call, and Adeel was able to get one to stick, with a catch off Barras bowling and Niraj also striking shortly after, lobbing one of his juicy grenades and Nasir taking a sky’d shot at point.
However, Barnes’ inform man was still at the crease, and was looking to take the game away from us as he blasted any bad ball, and quickly made his way to a century off 33 scoring shots. Special mention to Rob “The Dynamic Fielder” Keogh” who’s magic knee spray must have done the trick, as he patrolled the boundary at square leg, cutting off a number of sure-fire boundaries. The oppo were equally impressed with one of his signature foot stops on the boundary where they gave him a rousing round of applause.
Looking to turn the tide, Suri went to his opening batsman Iskander to wrestle back some momentum after a confident call of “Give me the ball, I’ll get this guy out”. True to his word, Iskander bowled extremely tightly, then in his second over got one to keep low and smash into the wickets as the centurion tried to smack another one to the covers.
This railed the troops, with a bit more chirp in the field and with an infamous “One Briiiiings Two” from Niraj, a second and third came from Adeel in successive overs – lovely stumping from Suri as their skipper looked to dance down the wicket, and brilliant caught behind from Suri as well from a missed timed cut shot.
3 wickets in 3 overs and the man in form back in the pavilion gave the Plough a sniff at victory with Barnes 169/6 with 7 over remaining. Some more beautiful off spin from the debutant Nasir kept the run rate low, but the Ploughmen found themselves 20/30 runs short and ruing some missed chances to get the centurion early – with Barnes chasing the total of 202 with 2 overs to spare and 6 wickets down. Credit to the boys for bringing the game back from what could have been a comfortable Barnes victory to “squeaky bum time” for the final few overs as some tidy bowling put the pressure back on.
The men of the Plough accepted an invitation back to The Watermans Arms with the Barnes lads for a few lagers, and to witness what has now come to be known as the infamous and possibly controversial incident “Tom Lane Swims in the Thames for £150”. Was it really a swim? Was it just a dip? Did I get my money’s worth? Does Tom have Tuberculosis? Only time will tell, as we hope Tom’s immune system is up to scratch and the Plough look forward to knocking over Barnes in a rematch next year.
The Crane (Caww Caww)