Cricket is such an extraordinary game, that what looked one sided for much of the day (Carl Brown skying a catch to Nick Healy at mid-wicket and Jonathan Neame running out the in form batsman, all in the first over) then swung back in the last few overs to produce a nail biting result. In almost any other sport the result would have been confirmed by the three quarter mark. The challenge for the handicapper in the Fixture Secreatary’s XI game is to balance the sides by family (always opposing), by age (even number of terracotta warriors) and by ability; and produce a result that is as close to a tie as possible.
Captains Hugo and Toby Snape agreed the toss and Hugo’s Fixture Secretary’s XI was put into bat. Carl flayed and perished; William Fenwick was undone by a call be Neame against the am of Toby, and was run out having faced a single ball. 5 for 2 from the first over of the day was something of a surprise. Al Smallwood survived a very confident shout for LBW, as the Chairman, inspired by the presence of Neame at the other end, sought to bamboozle the brewer. Jack Wood, beneficiary of Carl’s yahoo, picked up another two (including Harry Gibson, who was not hanging about), and ended up with 3 for 26. Jonathan survived through to drinks, and had scored a hard fought 50, as those around him surrendered meekly, but even he could not cope with the guile of Nick Healy, and was caught by Toby in the covers three balls after the break – now 75 for 6. Nick (3 for 36) and Benny (3 for 21) continued to wreak havoc, only briefly held up by a partnership of 70 between Hugo (51) and Patch Clews (32*). The end came swiftly as Benny had Hugo smartly stumped by Blair, and then got 2 in 2 shortly thereafter, the final wicket seeing Ed Prest, with an audience to impress, smacking his first ball straight to Toby at long on, some 15 minutes before tea.
189 was a target Toby would have accepted happily at the start, and with George BW (54), Jack Taylor (31) and Jasper (28), it was all going to plan for the first 20 overs or more. When the third wicket fell at 138 to a spectacular boundary catch by Carl (who only deals in spectacular boundary catches), there was complete lack of concern – only 52 needed and lots of wickets in hand, including Toby. However, the middle order lacked substance and the tail was unable to wag at all. What had seemed like a formality became hard work; Toby batting with rare circumspection tried to marshal his partners, but they abandoned him in a positive race to and from the middle. Benny was the only honourable exception, and kept Toby company for an almost match winning partnership of 18, which got so close. The key bowler, who had unlocked the procession, was Will Fenwick; from Carl’s catch on the boundary to the coup de grace, Will bowled 11.2 overs and took 7 for 39, the first Straggler “7 for” since Jon Riches took 7 for 25 at Bishopsbourne in 2010. Toby was left stranded on 33*, the total on 185, just five runs short, when Tim Healy was Will’s last victim. A remarkable reversal of fortune.