|Sun 12th July 2020|
The 2020 coronavirus season is finally underway, and the Stragglers managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Egerton under the inspirational leadership of the Master Brewer. So confident of victory was he, that he packed the stands with an adoring crowd of the extended Neame family, and it is with some confidence that we can say that the Stragglers played in front of a larger crowd than that watching England lose the first Test at Southampton. The ground at Egerton was a picture in the sunshine. An agreed toss saw the Stragglers asked to set a target. The early loss of Henry Roberts, making a first Straggler appearance for a few years, and a very fortunate catch from a no ball preventing a quick second, was followed by a stand of 125 between Jamie Oliver (63) and George BW (90). Max L came and went, with two lovely shots for 4, and the innings was rounded off nicely by Jasper (17*) and Inigo (45*) with a very tidy cameo. A declaration at 240 for 4 seemed sufficient. Tea was sorely missed in the interval.
Stan Weir was all urgent bustle in from the top end and made an immediate breakthrough in his first over. However, the radar blinked a little from time to time, and a second wicket was denied, when Stan was just too eager and surprised the batsman who was just looking up to see Stan arrive in his delivery stride. At the other end Ben also rattled the stumps, but that brought together Salim (a young Afghan with an exceptional eye for the ball) and Jack Harrison. Together they put on 162 for the third wicket, taking Egerton to within sight of victory at 197, and more than enough time (scoring at over 10 an over makes any target look simple). Stage two of the partnership (onslaught might be more appropriate) took a harsh toll on Harry Churchill and the Chairman, who were obliged to suffer indignity heaped on indignity due to the dropping of a very simple catch, which would have removed Salim for under 30 (harsh to name the culprit this early in the season, but there is already a very strong contender for the Lark Catching Cup). Salim duly reached his century and then accelerated on, finally undone by the returning Ben for 128. In the next over Jack (48) was hurried into a hook by Jasper and, fortunately, the skied catch fell to the very safe hands of Henry Roberts. With 38 still required, the middle order and tail were not up to the task, and fell to the accuracy of Ben, who finished with 6 for 54, and Jasper, (2 for 29 and a very tidy runout). The last four wickets fell with only one run added to the score, 218 all out with just under 3 overs to spare.