Ian Antonio took his young side into this wet and windy game against slow starters Effingham on the back of a convincing dismemberment of Old Suttonians. There have been rumours that people have been doubting ‘the Hogs’ title credentials this season on the back of an opinion column in the Surrey Advertiser. Someone once told Arsene Wenger that kids couldn’t win a title. They proved him wrong and with senior pros Gareth Plunkett, Dave Downey and Anand Desai the only players over 22 they are looking to prove the critics of the ‘Advertiser’ wrong. Antonio won the toss yet again and chose the positive approach and opted to bowl as has been the regular pattern he has seemed to take this season.
Effingham with 3 losses from 3 started well, with in-form Ford and wristy Latif taking the attack to the Ditton bowlers with only Henderson being able to restrict the runs flowing, and soon found themselves sharing an unbeaten opening century stand between them. The usually reliable Plunkett and Hall haemorrhaged runs to leave the skipper with a problem. Huxford dropped a couple of catches after taking 2 of the harder ones, which inspired Ditton to some comedic fielding and banter from Henderson and Bennett testing Antonio’s patience. Fegan then stepped up and showed why he is rated so highly despite a relatively slow start to the season with ball and bat as far as he is concerned. Accompanied by the talismanic Hunt, the pair of them proceeded to remove 4 of the top 5, with the pair combining when Fegan showed his agility to dive forward and claim the ball to remove captain Ford and give Hunt what he described as “the biggest scalp of my career”. This only after a scuffle in the middle which resulted in Nick Turnbull being fined 50% of his match fee for telling Fareed Butt to “shut up”. After the initial resistance, wickets fell regularly with inspired bowling change James Mumford, who was only allowed to play on the Friday before the match when his Mum said that he had in fact revised enough to play, taking 3 wickets. Downey, casual as ever ran out the dangerous Pharrell who is on a break from his worldwide tour. After that, Henderson mopped up the tail with a cheeky ‘2 for’ to leave Effingham at a modest 183 all out.
At tea, the mood in the Ditton camp was vibrant hoping that classy Turnbull would lead the side from the front and hopefully to another comfortable victory in the improving weather.
Downey accompanied Turnbull to the crease and started positively. Pope and White with his hopeless banter plugged away on a pitch that had started to pop as it began to dry out. A good Yorker was enough to remove Downey bowled which brought out of form and luck Gareth ‘Parkwest Projects’ Plunkett to the crease, his luck showed no sign of relenting as the trigger from Ian Foulds was enough to see him depart for 4. Ian ‘40s’ Antonio entered the fray at number 4 while Nick Turnbull remarkably did not reach 50 departing for 44 getting out to the same shot as the week before leaving LDCC teetering on the brink of an unlikely defeat with the batting not having been a strong point as of yet this season. Antonio soon followed for 26 snicking off to Salman Butt. Effingham persisted to only bowl 3 bowlers. Michael ‘Thames Ditton toilet door’ Hall and Tarn Huxford batted steadily but were both knocked over for 32 and 12 respectively to leave Tom ‘the finisher’ Bennett needing to do what he does best. 30 were needed off 6 overs to win with 3 wickets left. Bennett desperately needed a partner but Ben Henderson was farcically run out to leave the home crowd’s nerves jangling. When Oli ‘the combo’ Fegan was bowled. It was down to well known number 11 Hunt and Bennett to now bat out for the draw with 17 runs off the last 2 overs needed with 1 wicket left. Percy was heard saying, “It is most dramatic game to ever be played on Stoke’s Field, the way it has swung from one side to the other is a great advert for the Fuller’s Division 2 cricket.” Bennett picked up a few runs to leave 7 runs to win off the last over. Bennett blocked out the first few balls then disaster struck as Bennett, without thinking took a 1 to expose Hunt to Salman Butt’s vicious spin for the last 2 balls. Hunt fended off the 1st one which fell agonisingly close to the stumps, by this time the LDCC faithful were pacing furiously inside and outside the pavilion. But there should have been no worries as Hunt defended the last ball as he looked like a genuine number 3 to see Ditton home to a winning draw.
Antonio said after the game, “The whole commotion with the press this week definitely affected the team. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves. It’s not the worst result but we should be winning games like this if we are to fulfil out ambition of winning this league. Me and Nick Turnbull are about to have a meeting with the team but he probably won’t let anyone else talk in the meeting which may be an issue to look at also. We will discuss our future performances; I have nothing else to say on the matter. You will see a different mentality next week.”
Ben Henderson explained, “I’m please to have notched up 2 wickets today, but my run out was comical, wearing a head band also made me look a bit silly so I may have to contemplate losing it for next week. I am going to recharge my batteries in Devon for a few days before looking forward to the Ewhurst game, I may also have to go to Staines on Friday night again as well, it seems to be a lucky ritual for me and the team and I just enjoy it so much.”
Antonio will rally the troops for the visit of Ewhurst this Saturday.
Match Report by Ian Antonio