Village Cricket at its best

Sunday 16th September 2007

Plaistow CC v Lodsworth CC at Plaistow

35 overs game

Lodsworth CC 167 for 8 off 29.4 overs (Oliver King 59, Amol Somwanshi 57, Alfred de Souza 16 ; S Chapman 4 overs 2 for 39)

Plaistow CC 163 for 8 off 35 overs ( A Wheelson 42, K Walker 41, M Beach 15, P Hazelwood 14 not out : Amol Somwanshi 10 overs 4 for 39, Vikram 11 overs 2 for 43).

Lodsworth won by four runs

We are 15 minutes from Plaistow, with 30 minutes to go before the start of the game, and Andy calls on the mobile. “Bob, we have only got eight players – Paul’s gone grouse shooting, Rod’s flown to Paris to watch South Africa play England, Jon’s sunning himself on a beach in Cyprus, Martin’s in Manchester and Al’s defected to Tillington. What do you think?”

I put the situation to the guys in the car with me – Alfred de Souza, Vikram and Amol Somwanshi – and as one they respond, “We’re playing, there is no way we are calling the game off.” Andy confirms this is also the opinion of the skipper, Matt Hall.

You would think that arriving with just eight players would enough of a problem but village cricket was never so simple. On reaching the ground we find that another team, Wisborough Green CC, have also turned up to play Plaistow – they are a week early! There is some talk of making the game a three-way 20/20 but the Wisborough team decide to push off and play golf, leaving the field to us. Despite mumblings about a double hernia and a ‘dickey’ heart we press our scorer/umpire Hunter Graham into service as number 9 batsman.

The strategy is simple – Lodsworth’s opening pair Alfred de Souza and Vikram are instructed to play defensively and build a firm foundation for the depleted team. The strategy goes straight out of the window as Vikram is bowled in the second over and Alfred hits three 4’s before being caught behind in the fifth over. The comedy develops as the next batsman, skipper Matt Hall, promptly hits his wicket for the first time in his career.

Then surprise! surprise! Ollie King who has struggled to lay bat on ball all season recovers all his latent skills to knock 59, and with Amol Somwanshi (57) take the score to 133 for 4. With 10 from Andy Long and a few from the tail end (including a single from the septuagenarian scorer) Lodsworth eventually compile a very respectable 167 for 8 off 29.4 overs.

After tea taken in the local pub the game resumes. The result seemed inevitable as Plaistow creep towards 100 with the loss of just one wicket. Then in quick succession A Wheelson (42) is bowled by Vikram, K Walker (41) is bowled by Amol, Amol takes a stupendous ct-and-bwld to remove B Moser on 6, and a bullet-like return to the keeper from Alfred de Souza dismisses M Beach for 15. Schoolboy Ben Oakley is prominent as he dives to stop a number of certain fours. The skids are suddenly under Plaistow.

And so to the final over with Plaistow on 157, needing 11 for victory. Dot ball, dot ball, dot ball, dot ball and then a towering six over the bowlers head from P Hazelwood. Last ball … and a four will tie the game. But it is not to be as the batsman swings, misses and the ball goes through to the keeper as Lodsworth savour a famous victory. Village cricket at its best!

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