For the very first time since the founding of a second wandering side in Kent, some 70 years ago, it was with considerable anticipation that the flags of the Band of Brothers and the Shepway Stragglers were raised together at Torry Hill. The Stragglers, lead by Patch Mitchell, duly lost the toss and were inserted. Undaunted by the occasion, Al Smallwood and James Boyd Moss batted like openers, leaving the good balls, avoiding risk and building a sound foundation. Al had been given a life, dropped in the slips, but when he was adjudged LBW for a steady 39, the partnership was worth 99, and the base had been laid. Jasper is not hanging about in 2017, and upped the tempo, as did James, with two towering sixes into the long grass, before he holed out to Patch (on as a replacement fielder). With the score on 163 for 2 at lunch, the Stragglers were well placed. Jasper (53) continued in the same vein, but wickets began to fall as the pace increased – Ben (19), George BW (17), Theo (18) and Rory Mac (23), before Patch (16) finished with a flourish to declare on 279 for 7 from 48 overs.
Torry Hill has seen some big chases in 2017, but with the cover blowing off over the weekend, the wicket had been rain affected, and was now drying quickly. Hugo got the Stragglers off to a flier, with an opener plumb LBW in the first over. Sadly, this was not followed up, when the first of 6 catches in the innings went to ground. Unusually, and in contrast to much of the catching, Straggler ground fielding was electric, with nothing conceded and many certain boundaries turned into twos, with fielders throwing themselves around the boundary. Perhaps the most impressive save was Hugo diving full length parallel to the boundary, and propelling the ball some 20 yards to Ben to hurl the ball back to Al. Theo doesn’t often drop catches, and this time, when he did so, he ran out the non-striker with the deflection. He then went on to take an extraordinary one handed diving return catch, leaving the batsman open-mouthed in astonishment. Patch induced an indiscretion from his opposite number, Al took a wide bottom edge, Hugo’s rocket arm removed another, run out, and Rory held another sharp return catch to almost bring the game back to life. Wickets fell frequently enough to disrupt the chase, but not quite enough to close out for victory, and it was left to Finn Hulbert and Alex Hill to block out for the draw (albeit with Finn reverse sweeping the final ball to the boundary to make a point). The Band of Brothers closed on 221 for 7, an excellent tightly fought game, and one almost certainly decided by the failure to hold on to catches on both sides.