Having traded in the idyllic country settings of Norfolk village cricket for the more austere London scene this season I did assume that I would at least be swapping with it the long county-spanning travel to and from matches for quick tube rides to grounds more or less around the corner.
Saturday’s league game away at Surrey Warriors however quickly quashed all these illusions.
Too trusting of the London transport system, chaos on the train lines left me stranded at Earlsfield and needing resuce from the nearby Fred and Max Gumpert. But out of the frying pan and into the fire as they say, and with another of our XI stuck at Waterloo (‘What’s Logan doing there an hour beore start time?!’ as Max demanded to know) and an eta rapidly approaching the 1pm kick off, tensions were rising in the Gumpert’s cramped Honda Accord. In between Max’s swearing at every Chelsea tractor blocking our route, and his formula 1 style pedal to metal driving, I was privy to the most bizarre of sibling arguments.
Akin to a classic good cop bad cop duo, one would take the role of the angry hot head, bemoaning the possible forfetuire of the toss and rushed start, whilst the other attempted to placate them (‘we’ll get there when we get there’). Yet almost immedieately they would switch, as if forgetting who was playing which role.
Eventually we escaped London and reached open roads, but it seemed Max’s fast and furious homage had wreaked havoc on the car. With a dashboard lighting up like a Christmas tree and a burning heat emanating from the engine a mini panic attack from Max ensued, tempered only by a ‘calming’ cigarette and a further argument over who was at fault for breaking the car (Fred for being it’s primary abuser, or Max for being the straw that broke the camel’s back?)
In a brief moment of calm amidst all the chaos though, Fred declared that troubles like this always lead to winning matches, and for once he was right.
A quick pit stop and a whites change in a petrol station and we arrived at the ground only 10 minutes late (with Logan running out of an uber shortly after). Having forfeited the toss due to lack of players and being put into field, it was a swift turn around to finding our fielding positions.
Luckily for us, opening bowler Ashish was either unaware or unperturbed about all of this, more concerned apparently with producing one of the most masterful displays of swing bowling I have seen. Bowling with real control, and excellently backed up in the field (Matt Hickson in particular taking a blinding catch at gully), Ashish tore through the Surrey Warriors top order, bowling his 9 overs straight through (itself a commendable feat in the baking conditions) and returning with figures of 6 for 15. At the other end, the supporting cast backed him up well. Tis bowled with impressive pace and an even more impressive run up, practically pushing off the sightscreen, and was unlucky not to take a wicket in his spell. Logan, apparently wanting to get his uber money’s worth, also bowled a tidy spell, expertly moving the ball late at a good speed to pick up 1 for 7, whilst Adeel was as miserly as ever, going for less than one run an over on his way to returning figures of 2 for 4 as Surrey Warriors were all out for 82.
Such a low total is always a tricky task to defend, but some impressive opening spells and some hearty appeals from the Warriors made the chase by no means easy. Steve Britto fell early for 4 (victim to a particularly vociferous LBW appeal), and Logan followed shortly after to much the same story, leaving it up to Max and Hicko to steer us home. Clearly keen to vent his earlier frustrations, Max raced his way to a run a ball 44, whilst Hicko played a wonderfully measured opener’s innings to end on 23 not out, with the Plough winning by 8 wickets.
A top class team performance, led by a top class swing bowler, on what was truly a roller coaster of a day.