The 2015 season proved to be one of endless frustration, as too many enthusiastic Straggler teams were denied the chance of glory by a combination of some very unkind weather, and both early and late season cancellations. In almost every game we had XI players, and occasionally some more on stand-by. In 68 years there has only been one season with fewer fixtures played – 8 in 2007, a really wet summer, against the 9 in 2015. By the end of July only 6 games played of 12 in the card, and so it continued with rain regularly falling on match days following a week of sunshine, and some disappointing opposition cancellations. The big disappointment, of course, is for those irregulars, who we see only a few times a season, and who have not had a chance to shine in 2015.
And there was a lot of shining on the field in 2015, when the Stragglers did make it to the middle, with cricket of the highest quality, as some of the more obscure stats will reveal. The Stragglers have never taken so many wickets per game played, nearly always bowling the opposition out. Of the 25 bowlers who took a wicket, 21 averaged less than 20! The averages read like a list from the ‘50s. And at nearly 4.7 catches per game, the bowlers have never been so well supported – only once previously have Straggler fielders held on to more than 4 catches per game, and usually the success rate languished at fewer than 3.
2015 generated rather fewer statistics than in the recent past, inevitable with so few games played. Finn Hulbert tops both batting and bowling averages, only the 8th time that both awards have gone to one Straggler; and Finn has now completed enough innings to enter the career averages list – at number 10 with an average of 40.40. Jasper has moved up to 6th in the list, averaging 44.85.
Ben Bowles now tops the “also batted” list with an average of 126, albeit from only 3 innings. Justin Hubbard has taken his career average up to 54.25, and now just needs a couple more completed innings to join the all time list.
As noted in the introductory paragraphs, Straggler bowlers were rampant in 2015, with an extraordinary list of success. Among the highlights, Jasper became the 39th Straggler to take 50 wickets for the Club. At the other end of the career list is Alastair Gordon, who, in dismissing son Joe, took his 349th wicket, only denied number 350 by some curmudgeonly umpiring.
In spite of the cohort of terracotta warriors in the field, Straggler fielding was electric. Jack Taylor and Hugo Snape each took 6 catches, most of which were in the slips. Slip catches are almost unheard of in Straggler annals, any sort of thick edge usually being among the safest of shots. And there were plenty of other exceptional catches, among them some of the contenders for Champagne moment.