A scorching hot Saturday down at the DSG saw the promotion-chasing 2s face up against bottom of the league Burgh Heath. Coming into the game off the back of a 6-wicket victory the previous week, any bookmaker worth their salt would have had the Plough down as clear favourites, but sport doens’t always go as planned.
An eager (and handsome) Ploughmans XI waited pitch side while Burgh Heath arrived in drips and drabs. Fortunately for the visiting side they managed to have 5 players at the ground in time for the toss and then 8 for the start of the game; so although starting off wth a few fielders short, no overs were sacrificed.
The visitors won the toss and elected to field. Ainslie and Iqbal opened the batting and got off to a good start seeing off the sharp left armer, before an injured Umar gloved a short ball through to the keeper on 19. Enter Will Curtis. Ainslie and Curtis occupied the crease for the majority of the innings, playing with grace and guile, finding gaps and running well. The wicketkeeper/batsman an impregnable force and Will Curtis exhibiting his brand new cut shot. They both breezed to 50 looking largely untroubled out in the middle. The pair were so captivitating in fact that the detail obsessed scorers union misseed their 100 partnership when it arrived.
The decision was taken to put their collective foot to the gas and increase the rate with wickets in hand and Ainslie eventually fell on 60 playing an adventurous shot. Curtis went on 76 after being joined by Cobbet who smashed an aggresive 29 off the remainder of the balls. The plough eventually finishing on 219/4 off their 40 overs. A decent total that they were confident of defending.
After tea the Plough got off to a dream start after only 3 balls. Rumford with the delivery and Cobbet with a screamer at slip – albeit fairly regulation for his standards.
“Doesn’t drop many!” Was the cry from the big Saffer; a phrase he’d regret later in the bar where he managed to spill an entire pint down himself.
A giddy Plough gathered in a celebratory huddle with confidence sky high, the boys not anticipating the tough afternoon in the dirt that lay ahead. The difficult fielding conditions would be exacerbated by half the team carrying injuries of varying severity.
Shortly after another wicket tumbled: Wilby with the ball, Elmslie with those safe, safe mits. Daisy would be the first to admit that this wasn’t the finest delivery of his career but he was rewarded nonetheless. With the openers gone, the score at 19-2 and the sun beating down on the DSG, spirits were high and the bar was in the not too distant horizon – metaphorically speaking of course.
A huge amount of credit has to go to Burgh Heath who managed to fight their way back into the run chase and grab the game by the scruff of the neck. They went hard at everything they could and the boundaries began to flow. The initial complacency that had clearly crept into the fielding team’s game had all but vanished with the score now at 110-2. It was the captain with ball in hand who dragged his side back into the game with a caught and bowled. He then threw the ball to Elmslie who began on making this track look like day 5 at the SCG, getting some serious grip and turn.
Elmslie then knocked over the other danger man and followed this up with a second wicket; Evans evoking his inner Benny Cobbet to take a smart catch at slip. Three wickets falling for just 1 run. The mini collapse in the middle order swinging the pendulum back towards the dirty old Plough. The destructive Elmslie bowling from one end was backed up by his captain at the other. Wicket! Bowled Lonnen, caught Curtis. The score now 137-6.
The 2s probably saw this mini collapse as the turning point, but Burgh Heath were still on track. The Plough needed wickets and instead the incoming batter would go on to make a very healthy 32*. Ed Beesley would take the final two wickets on his return to the club, catches from Lonnen and Ajit Prasad, who narrowly avoided a serious TFC. Despite Beesley’s 2 wickets, the highlight of his 6 over spell would be his headmaster-like disciplining of the opposition player watching YouTube while positioned at standing umpire.
The final two wickets didn’t arrive and Burgh Heath won with overs to spare. It would be a day of reflection for a 2s side who really should have been the victors on the day. Was there an element of complacency in the field? On another day would the oppo’s aggresive tactics have been their downfall? Or was it just one of those days? On to the next….
Charlie Chev Evans