It’s official: the Stragglers cannot chase in 2019. Set 4 targets so far this season, the aggregate margin of four failures is a modest 54 runs – all tight. On the other hand the aggregate margin when Stragglers bat first and then skittle the opposition in 2019 (3 games) is 441 runs! And in this case, it should be noted that the top 9 Straggler batsmen have scored a total of 31 Straggler centuries between them (some 24% of allcenturies scored in 73 years) – not a weak batting line up.
Stragglers broke new ground once more with a mid-week T20 in west London, on the lovely ground at the Hurlingham Club. The “toss” was rendered somewhat obsolete by the absence of opposition players, and the Stragglers took the field. Early wickets from Hugo and Ed, coupled with some sharp ground fielding kept the run rate in check (indeed skipper Charlie was briefly concerned that we might be chasing fewer than 100). The Chairman came on at first change, induced a couple of scoops into the ring, and the pressure increased. Dot balls are key in T20, and the opening three bowlers joined them up – Hugo, Ed and the Chairman’s 12 overs went for a modest 69 runs. However, the absence of a fully firing support crew saw the remaining 8 overs disappear for 113 runs, which tipped the balance firmly back in favour of our hosts. And when the runs flow, the fielding can become a little leaky. Ollie Logan, who had arrived late and come to the crease at the fall of the 6th wicket, began the final over on strike and on 84, with a century in mind. However, a couple of sharp run-outs engineered by Charlie saw him end undefeated on 90 and the score an unexpectedly high 184 for 8.
The opening pair began with confidence, Jasper (44) in particular swatting anything even vaguely short of a length to the fence. However, a flurry of wickets brought Jack Wood (10) and Ben Simpson (30) to the crease to rebuild, and keep the score moving along. Ben always enjoys a tennis shot, and he hit a couple of lovely forehands for 6 in the pavilion. Jack suffered a harsh decision, LBW to an thick edge, and the lower middle order melted somewhat. Al, however, was the honourable exception, smacking bad balls and running hard. At the fall of the 9th wicket, 32 runs were required from 15 balls, with Al still hitting hard. An edge, some buzzers and another couple of boundaries from Al saw what seemed a modest 14 required from the final over. Al was on strike. However, a couple of scoops didn’t come off, a hard two attempted and Al was run out for 47, the total mere 12 runs short.