Three titles on the bounce. Reigning Premier League champions. Countless pool of top-drawer players. A podcast. A midweek T20 team. Annual Dinners, Tours, and Club days. There isn’t much Ploughmans CC haven’t done over the last few years and so it’s about time they sent out a second team to take the Surrey second division by storm and force the DSG to buy a bigger trophy cabinet.
On Saturday, that day came. As the 22nd league player in baggy blue and gold that weekend strolled up 10 minutes before we started with his thunderous Daisy Dukes. New captain Tom Lonnen wasted absolutely no time for his first swipe of the season sarcastically welcoming the final member to the boundary ropes. Once he’d cooled off, our evergreen skipper strutted out to the middle to do the toss. When he finished that he threw a coin in the air and called heads. Obviously he won, and on a decent enough looking pitch Ploughmans would bat first.
The consistent Victoria Sponge and ever reliable Leon would take to the square, and patiently soaked up everything that came their way. Cake kept the score ticking and then Leon seemingly got bored of defending and punished a short ball that went flying for 6, sending Surrey warriors for a hike through the woods to look for the ball.
The score progressed nicely; pressure eased by wides which meant we could play the game at our pace. Eventually Leon fell to one of the few misbehaving delivers of the day, a straight ball keeping low and trapping him LBW. In came a Stevens. I haven’t heard of him before, but I’m told he’s Mel’s son and Harvey’s brother. The big man strolled in on the back of a cool 60 odd last week and stayed with Cake as the Plough calmly reached 100-1.
Cake sailed past 50 with what looked like relative ease, and we were playing the perfect 45 over innings. The runs flowed and it seemed too much Cake meant S.Warriors were left feeling full, and drops were put down giving both batters reprieves at various stages throughout. Eventually Cake fell for a beautifully worked 73, setting the platform for Will Curtis to come on and make his debut for the plough. Still with that perfect 45 overs in his mind, skipper Lonnen told him to stay calm, play himself in, and keep building the innings. With 15 overs left this seemed sound advice as we looked at reaching 250-60 from our 45.
Another few overs flew by with Stevens playing some glorious late cuts behind square which picked up the rate and allowed Curtis to play his game around him. Then came a moment of madness. Stevens clipped off his legs and set off for what looked like an easy single, and so it proved as he nearly made it back for 2. The only issue was that Curtis had dropped his bat and didn’t budge meaning Will Stevens was ran out at the strikers end for an agonising 48. Packed with guilt and part down to his debut, Curtis kindly offered to go halves on the jug for avoidance, as after all it was a joint effort.
With Stevens gone, new vice skip Tom Lane plodded on to the square with more unsolicited advice about building his innings and having time with 10 overs left. This advice was then thrown down the pan when it emerged the second division, which Lonnen has played in for many years, actually has just 40 over matches.
With a finishing job to do, Curtis and Lane accelerated the innings and smashed balls to the boundary, more than making up for the run-out debacle. Eventually we finished on 226, a great score in April and helped not lightly by 33 extras.
After we’d had a Jackie special, and some tea, we set about going out to defend our score.
Lonnen gave a Churchillian speech and fired up the blue and gold to go out and put the pressure right on the batting side. He finished this by telling the bowlers not to bowl wides, which changed their plans completely. Now aiming to actually get the batters out, Lewis Wilby took the new ball, ..W – his first 2 balls seemed to disappoint the opening batsman more than anything, as he’d come all the way from Chertsey, fielded for 40 overs, and then once he get in to bat couldn’t even see the ball. Luckily he didn’t need to see the third, he could just hear it as the stumps clattered behind him and he could go and relax for a few hours. On came Spence at the other end, bowling beautifully and going for 1 run.
Whilst bowling tidily and not doing much wrong, Surrey warriors dug in and held firm as both of the next pair reached 50, matching our 100-1 and starting to worry us. Luck came their way the form of glancing edges and at drinks, Lonnen reminded us to stay calm, and was confident once we got one, we would be having jugs before we knew it. He was right. Lonnen and CRS were the change bowlers, and both bowled nicely keeping the score down, but it was CRS who changed the game. Finding that spot he sent Tom Lane’s brain into overdrive as he tried to calculate the consecutive dot balls. Nick Ridgway helped him out and let’s just say it was a lot. The dots kept coming but the only thing missing was wickets.
Enter Dan Rumford. Wild swinging followed but not many hit the bat, and even less were shots I could name, but eventually we made the breakthrough. Some stellar bowling from Rumford meant he finished on 3-46. Roden Smith then took 2 which were thoroughly deserved before the ‘return of Spencer’ and Daisy Dukes. It didn’t take long before Wilby took 2 more with the help of some great catches by Noodle at cover and Stevens at mid-off. The latter even more impressive as he flopped on to his arse after a lack of balance in his finishing position. These were backed up by Spence with 1, and Surrey Warriors finished on 185 all out.
A 41-run victory on debut for Ploughmans 2nd XI. This was a great win helped by a balance of the experience of league stalwarts Lonnen, Noodle, Leon and arguably Spence, and the youthful exuberance of, well, the rest of the team.
We sit top of both leagues, and neither side will have any intention of that changing between now and the end of the season. Go well. Plough on.
Tom Lane (VC, best fielder in his flat, son of Paul)