The Master Brewer assembled a side to play Elham with selection based on age – anyone younger than Jonathan was unlikely to get the nod. The result was an average age of 48, with more creaking bones than in a medieval ossuary, and the alternative brewer (Eliot Forster) despatched to hospital with a torn bicep. The result was a third victory in three, the best start to a Straggler season since 1990. Batting first once more, and on a track offering little to the bowlers, the years were cast aside as Matthew Roberts and Giles Brealy, followed more substantially by Chris Pattinson, tucked in. Running between the wickets was steady at best, and comparisons were made with startled rhinos. Progress was barely interrupted by the occasional wicket, and Chris duly reached a masterful undefeated century with a flurry of boundaries. Tea was taken early at 250 for 4.
In the corresponding fixture in 2010, Elham proved tenacious when given time to chase, and the early tea had given them time. With severely limited bowling options, our illustrious skipper was obliged to bowl anyone who could pass his arm above shoulder height, and threatened to bowl himself unchanged from one end. For a while wickets were elusive. The introduction of Rupert Hill, bowling for the first time for a number of years brought the breakthrough just when the unthinkable was becoming plausible. Age and immobility was still causing problems in the field, and Giles created a new position at short mid off – the pillar. He did, however, spring into life when offered a one handed chance off his own bowling. Once more the last few wickets went in a clatter, and Elham fell 59 runs short.