On a weekend where it looked unlikely any cricket would be played at all, an optimistic Simon Carson took a star-studded line-up all the way out of London into Buckinghamshire to face a former Ploughman and a well–known opposition in Wooburn Narkovians.
The sun was shining as we arrived at the ground however the forecast told a different story for how the day was going to pan out.
For those who have not been there, Wooburn is a beautiful ground with a very nice clubhouse surrounded by trees, with a small stream on one of the straight boundaries. The boundaries are relatively small, and the straight boundaries, in particular, are quite short.
On a wet day club captain Simon Carson elected to bowl first. With an established bowling attack at his disposal, there were high hopes all around the ground for early wicket’s and a classic Ploughmans strangling performance.
As it turned out it was not to be. Opening bowlers Liam Gray and Matt hopper, who promise so much as an opening combination, failed to deliver, for the second time of bowling together. There has been some suggestion that the massive egos in play have thus far stood in the way of the pair’s cohesion and devastating potential.
The opening batsmen took advantage of the power play and the short straight boundaries early on and numerous balls disappeared into the long grass.
Fred “The Mouse” Gumpert, using his detective skills, was the first into the long grass on numerous occasions. At a certain point, a bird of prey, believed to be a Red Kite, circled above the long grass while the mouse foraged for the ball, much the enjoyment of the sodden Ploughmen, who called over to the mouse him to warn of the impending threat soaring overhead.
The change bowlers Trent and Leo had more success both beating the outside edge in their first couple of overs and Leo, in particular, went on to bowl a fine spell in which he was very unlucky not to get rewarded with a wicket. Leo cut the opposition batsmen in half more than once and the opposition batsmen rode their luck a little with a few balls that flew through very close to the stumps indeed and a few dropped catches. One such drop saw a collision of monumental proportions as two fielders, who will not be named, both ran towards the same ball, despite one of them calling for it. They smashed into each other and despite trying hard to hold onto the ball, but it wriggled free to onto the ground.
The rain played its part in a dreary day and we left and re-entered the field of play as the showers came and went. In one rain break, a local dog lifted its leg on Leo‘s bag. Not all of us had seen what happened and upon realising what had happened, someone asked who the bag belonged to, to which they were informed, “It’s not Leo’s bag anymore, it belongs to the dog now”.
In a separate rain break it came to light that Trent has been forwarding on the team sheets to his mate in Australia so he can keep up with the fantasy League. The point was made by one fellow Ploughman that this might need to be investigated, as a potential breach of insider trading regulations.
Back onto the field to conclude our fielding saw bowling changes in the form of Rehan Raees, on debut for the Plough and club captain Simon Carson. Both bowled good spells, managing to turn a wet ball and cause the opposition batsmen problems with flight and guile. Finally a catch was taken, by Australian quick Matt hopper, however, unfortunately, the delivery was adjudicated to be a no ball by the umpire so the excitement around the catch soon subsided. That didn’t disturb Raees or Carson, though, Carson finishing with one wicket and some excellent deliveries that turned past the outside edge of the left hander. Raees finished a tidy spell with two wickets and the safe hands of Max Gumpert took two very good catches running around the boundary.
Our fielding, unusually, left a little bit to be desired despite some valiant slides but the damage had been done by the opening pair (100 runs and 44 runs respectively), who put up really good total which was always going to be difficult for us to beat.
Rain affected the total number of overs played which started off as an ambitious 40 and was reduced to 30 after various rain breaks.
Our top order on the whole found it difficult against some quality bowling from the opposition and some quite difficult conditions. The one exception to this was the one and only Max Gumpert, who hit a blistering 55. For a while he was ably assisted by Raees, and there was some hope that we may be able to take the match fairly deep. This was an excellent showing from Raees, despite batting in trainers on a wet deck and could probably have had more runs if wearing spikes, which would have allowed him to push the singles even harder. A very promising performance all round from the debutante and he finished with a respectable 16 runs. Once dismissed, the lower order put up little resistance, part of that owing to a couple of confusing run outs.
Some of that is no doubt down to the weather and the conditions on the day, but for those who have been around Ploughmans for a while, there were definitely a couple of “felt like runs” moments.
No drinks break was called in our innings as we had been on and off the field throughout the afternoon, but Max made sure to have a mid-innings break to get in his trademark cigarette.
Overall it was a tough day for the plough. The weather conditions were less than favourable, and we were convincingly beaten by a side who were superior on the day. Full credit goes to Wooburn who batted incredibly well and bowled and fielded professionally to tie up what was a comprehensive victory. The centurion set up the game for the win and was kind enough to share his thoughts with us in a post–game interview, which you can hear on last weeks’ podcast. We were well looked after once the game had finished a few stayed behind for a good social and some interesting cricket chat.
In terms of cricket performance, bar a few exceptions, it was one to forget from us, but a lot of the players down there had a good laugh despite the conditions and despite being on the wrong end of the result.
We go again next week. Plough on.