Chairman's Blog

Both batting and bowling awards hung in the balance prior to the final fixture at Hollingbourne, with even the weather poised to play a part. Jasper’s unbeaten century at Otterden had catapulted him just to the top of averages leading into the game.  The other serious contenders, Theo and the MB, were playing, as well as a few less likely (Nigel, Simon, Matt and even the Chairman – perhaps a little optimistic requiring an unbeaten double hundred batting at 10). Sadly Jamie Lavers, in pole position for the bowling, was not able to play, leaving the MB needing to complete a mere 14 balls and not be carted for an absolute shed full, to top the bowling. The Chairman was under huge pressure to allow Jonathan a 2 over spell only…

With openers Jasper and Theo both falling cheaply at the final fence, Jonathan had to either carry his bat or score more than 28 runs. In the end, in spite of a timely threatening shower, he did both in some style, remaining undefeated on 115 at the end of 40 overs. The undoubted highlight for the noisy crowd in the final two overs of Jonathan’s innings was to see him out scored by the Chairman. Jonathan finished his batting season with an average of 71.75, the fourth highest seasonal average in Straggler history. Huge credit is also due to Jasper and Theo for their batting this season, both scoring excellent centuries. Their time will come.

Jonathan, however,  was not done yet. In spite of pleading from all present, and a lifting of the clouds, the Chairman felt obliged to introduce the MB as first change. To very nearly add insult to injury, he then took 2 wickets in two balls, and was within a twitchy finger of a hat-trick. He duly bowled the 14 balls to qualify for the averages, which he comfortably topped with 13 wickets for 103 at an average of 7.92, the best performance since Paul Smallwood took 20 for 136 in 1977, and the eleventh best season’s figures in Straggler history.

In spite of the general feeling of despair engendered by the MB’s success in both awards (the fifth time one player has topped both), as well as his century and five for, the season has been one of considerable success at all levels;

–  it is only the second time that we have had 5 centurions in a season (the other in 2001)
–  it is the first time since 1956 that 2 Stragglers have recorded a hat trick in the same season
–  61 out field catches is the fourth highest, and the best since 1982
–  9 victories is the most since 1990
–  19 victims for keepers is the most since 1990 as well, with Theo taking 7 of them
–  144 wickets is the most since 1996

I could go on, and will update the stats on the web site in the next week or so. Many fixtures have been over subscribed; 15 players made their Straggler debuts, and most went on to play in a few games. Thank you to all who made the season such a success, and congratulations to Jonathan, who will be quite unbearable for years to come.