In this season of Covid fixture rearrangements, the Stragglers gathered for a second club fixture at Belmont, with teams captained by Patch Clews (Stragglers) and Seb Leggett (Fixture Secretary’s XII). With four Stragglers on debut, the first appearance for 6 years by Stabber (a serious contender for the 2020 champagne moment), 8 wickets shared among the Stabb family, the Lark catching cup changing hands more than once in the afternoon, and George’s 7th Straggler ton, the game lived up to expectations.
Patch won the toss, and the Stragglers opened with Benny, batting for the long haul as ever, and James Pollington, who seemed to be in a frantic hurry, dealing almost exclusively in boundaries, and getting the innings off to an electric start, in spite of tidy opening spells from Jamie Adams and Tom Tribe. Tom saw off James (35), but George now anchored one end of the rest of the innings, while others struck out. Benny (27) was bowled by Seb, to whom Matt (15) then gave a very sharp chance of short mid-wicket off the James Meddings. In between these wickets, James Stabb, introduced at second change, produced the perfect yorker first up to remove the Master Brewer (18) and lay an almost unarguable claim to the 2020 champagne moment. Harry Churchill, keeping his father at bay, posted his highest Straggler score (20) in a slow-motion partnership of 40 with George. With runs still required for a declaration and pressure on the batters, Seb introduced his secret weapon, young Ed Stabb. Coming off his long run, he knocked over the middle order with figures of 3 for 23, his elder brother included among his victims. Ben Simpson now arrived at the crease intent on facing as many balls as possible to make up for sitting for so long on the boundary, and, in doing so very nearly deprived George of his ton. Patch relented reluctantly, and delayed the declaration, to allow George another couple of balls to reach his 7th century, in a total of 249 for 7 declared.
The Fixture Secretary’s XII stuttered at the start, with only James Meddings making a mark, while the opening bowlers, Rufus and Ben, knocked over Max and Tom T. At first change, the Chairman and Toby continued to make inroads, removing Meddings (27) and James Felton (13), although Jasper was now at the crease, and upping the tempo. With Tom Wood (25) in support, the target suddenly looked pretty modest, 10 an over easily achieved, and bowlers under pressure. The Stragglers now unleashed the third Stabb of the day, elder brother Will, to remove Tom, and then run through the lower middle order, well supported by three exceptional catches by Ben, and some chat from Harry to unsettle Theo. However, it was Jasper who posed the threat (70 runs coming in 6 overs, target in sight and Stabber senior holding up the other end). Toby has proved to be the difference in both Inter-Straggler games in 2020, and Patch now brought him back, to be rewarded with the perfect ball, pitching middle and clipping the top of off, Jasper gone for 78. Toby (4 for 26) and Will (4 for 28) tidied up the tail, the final wicket fraternal revenge, and victory by 57 runs. Collectively the Stabbs had gathered figures of 8 for 58 from 11.4 overs.