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Match 14 2023 (21st scheduled): August 20

Ploughmans v Pimlico Strollers CC

Ploughmen punish Strollers spills
posted: August 21, 2023

Strollers vs Ploughmans, 20 August 2023

Two weeks on from Chippenham we made another long journey to play the Ploughmans XI at Dulwich Sports Ground – a green oasis in the farthest reaches of South London. A long journey for most of us that is, except for south of the river-dwelling Ron who set off on his pedal bike mistakenly thinking we were playing in Crouch End only to realise halfway there that the rest of us were actually down in his manor ready to play …and, having about-faced, he arrived a full hour late. This rather lackadaisical attention to detail somewhat epitomised our afternoon.

With hot sun and blue skies peaking through fluffy clouds overhead it surprised some when skipper Spencer agreed with the oppo that they would bat first. However, to be fair, the patchy green pitch looked somewhat suspicious so we gave him the benefit of the doubt.

It appeared to be a canny move as, after the Ploughmans openers made a promising start, with the pitch offering variable bounce, wickets began to tumble with Abhik clattering through Boughton’s defences. The same batsman then kindly jogged back out to field for us (with the much delayed Ron still absent) and pouched an excellent catch at point off Avnish to dismiss Keogh – returning the favour Gaurav had done for the oppo the previous year when he controversially caught out Viral! Kash, making a long-awaited return to the side, collected our third when the dangerous looking Polebon top edged one to Gav at slip and we had the Ploughmen three down for 69. This looked hopeful.

That, however, was where our progress faltered. The oppo’s lionesque number four, Max Gumpurt, imposed his presence with a fearsome battery of immense fours and sixes carted between the V. He was joined by the Ploughmans’ skipper Britto who looked in a similarly belligerent mood and we sheepishly looked on as they set about our attack to mount a hundred partnership that threatened to take the game away from us.

We didn’t help ourselves any of course as chance after chance was put down with at least six catches (!) going begging around the park – the nadir of these being arguably when Ron, casually puffing on a vape pen at point, scrambled to put down his puffer in time and let Gumpurt off the hook. Costly? Hmm.

Eventually Ron made amends by having Britto well caught at deep long off by Kash, the oppo’s skipper having just notched up his half century. But, if we thought the hard yards were over, we were much mistaken as the oppo’s big Aussie number six Dowell marched out and carted an immense six off Avnish to open his account.

Similarly Gumpurt powered on past 50 but, with his scoring marginally stemmed by some accurate stuff from Spencer, the skipper himself caught out the dangerman at midwicket when Gaurav was brought back into the attack towards the close. Gaurav picked up another when Nair mistimed and top edged one up to débutant Vasu lurking in the covers who safely clung on. Undeterred, Dowell continued his onslaught and the oppo eventually closed on 231-6 …arguably at least 40 more than they might have deserved thanks to the spilled catches.

We munched on a good tea, ruing our missed chances and weighed up the task ahead. With a formidable target of 232 to chase, Spencer shuffled the batting order to drop himself lower down along with Tim who was still nursing a sore hand from another game the day before.

Unfortunately we didn’t make the best of starts. Gav fell early to a pea roller from Wilby who skidded one under his bat. Kash, in at three, fell soon after when he snicked behind to Polebon. Ron skied a return catch to Cobbett and when Abhik (until then looking like our only well set batter) was castled for 28 by Gumpurt we found ourselves reeling on 49-4.

The Ploughmans gentlemen were clearly lapping it up, especially their chirpy off spinner Josh Kerr who loudly chimed in from wherever he found himself on the pitch even breaking into song with “Don’t stop me now, I’m having a plough” …his pitch almost as wayward as his bowling.

Undeterred Vasu and Ali thankfully managed to get the scoreboard ticking over gently as they calmly worked the ball around until the former top edged one another one up from Cobbett and was caught at gully by Nair. Tim came in at seven but, in his eagerness to get off the mark, promptly ran out Ali off his first delivery and then stitched himself up a few balls later – Gaurav refusing to run to one edged behind and the Sturminator too was run out. Oh dear.

With seven down after drinks the prospect of victory seemed as far of course as Ron had been on his bike earlier in the day but, with Spencer now in the middle, we at least began to restore some composure. With the pitch decidedly two paced scoring was never easy but thankfully we weren’t throwing away our wickets any more. Mercifully, the hundred eventually came up to restore some respectability to proceedings and, with Gaurav and Spencer beginning to time the ball with a bit more fluidity, there remained perhaps the smallest flicker of hope, especially with the oppo generously gifting us dozens of wides and byes as they gave their part time bowlers a run out.

With 150 on the board the Ploughmen decided it was time to go in for the kill and brought back their pacer Wilby who stifled our scoring. In an effort to keep the run rate up, Spencer eventually fell for 37 – five short of reaching a hundred partnership with Gaurav – when he became our third run out of the afternoon. Gaurav added a few more before he fell in the latest in a long line of batters to top edge and was caught behind for 31.

With the game gone and again only ten Strollers at our disposal, lowest scorer Gav marched out for an encore innings and a little fun with Avnish in the middle, gamely spanking a few more to take us to 196-9 at the close. Alas though the margin of defeat was glaringly obvious – 35 runs which so easily could have been saved had we taken our catches earlier in the day. Catches win matches, drops don’t… it’s really very simple.

Thanks to the Ploughmans for a good game and let’s hope we find our catching mits as we head into the final few fixtures of the season.

 

Gavin Richardson
22.08.2023

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