It is not too often, that the rule of the game have to be consulted to determine if a result was a draw or a tie, but after five and half hours of cricket, 494 runs, there was nothing between the sides, the scores level on 247. The objective in selection is to produce a close result, but this will take some beating. Losing the toss, Al and the Stragglers were inserted by Jasper, captaining the Fixture Secretary’s XI. The innings followed a pattern of very one-sided partnerships, with Jack Wood (33), Ben Simpson (62) and then captain Al (80*), scoring at four or five times the rate of their respective partners, although Matt (22) was limpet like in holding the middle order together. Ed Prest bowled an impressive spell – 8-2-15-2 from the top end, backed up by Seb Leggett, who was unlucky to remain wicket-less. Those bowling up the hill had a harder job, and suffered the occasional cricked neck watching the ball fly high back over the boundary behind them. Unusually for Jack, who likes to hit the ball off a tee, his scoring wagon wheel, almost all off brother Tom, was remarkably narrow and behind the keeper. Tom had the last laugh, as Theo took a sharp leg side stumping, when Jack overbalanced to another hard to read delivery. Most of the Bergerac touring party were on show for the match, and the Straggler innings concluded with Alex Reese running himself out for nothing, and then Patch Clews watching admiringly from the non-striker’s end, as Al smashed 42 from the final few overs, declaring at 247 for 6.
The Fixture Secretary’s XI began with a pair of maidens, Hugo and Nick Wright bowling fast and hard, but, once underway, George BW and Chris Lark got into cruise control, and ticked off the runs. It was not until the 22nd over that debutant, George Martin, finally undid first George (59) at 115, and then Chris (57) in the next over. The foundation was so solid that Theo and Jasper, now at the wicket, knew it was only a matter of time; the match was surely won. With Hugo trying to stem the flow from the top end, successfully bowling 4 or 5 short balls an over, Al turned to the other debutant, Rory Boyd, as a last throw of the dice. Rory persuaded Theo (35) into a heave to leg; Ben was waiting in the deep; the best dot balls are wickets. With only 21 needed from 5 overs, there was no concern from the batters. A big six into the VW showroom, and then Al held a sharp chance between his legs off Rory (2 for 27) to remove Ben Wright; but now only 8 needed off two and a half overs. Enter Toby, always a rabbit risk with Hugo bowling, and duly yorked with a slow one; 243 for 5, and only 5 needed from ten balls; nerveless fielding required. The final over, 3 to win, Jasper (75*) on strike, still a certain victory; but George Martin (2 for 30) was up to the task; a scrambled single from the fourth ball; this left Chris Villiers, making his first appearance for 4 years, needing 2 to win; another dot ball; a single from the last, and the match drawn with scores level. Another nail biting finish, with Al’s Stragglers snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat. Chris’s undefeated 2, took him to 600 career runs, while Jasper marches onward, breaking records on an almost daily basis, now with 849 runs for the season and his career average back over 50. And on the other side Al has equalled his (and the Club, shared with two others) best haul of keeper scalps at 14.