It is some 6 years since the Stragglers began a season with consecutive defeats (that was on the mat in St. Tropez), but Milstead proved too much for a Straggler side lacking match practice. Openers Will Fenwick and Jonathan Christopher took ‘circumspect’ to another level, as they eased the shine off the new ball. Ten overs saw them at 23, and rate was only up a couple of notches when Jonathan (15) smacked a long hop straight to square leg – 56 for 1. Jasper joined Will and further upped the pace, but his departure for 28 saw the muscular middle order collapse from 105 for 1 to 122 for 6, including the loss of Will for a carefully crafted 56. The fall of the fifth wicket, however, brought skipper Theo to the crease, and he lit up the score book with a glorious series of clips off his legs and lofted drives. What was the problem with the pitch? No terrors for Theo. When he called the sides in for tea, he had reached a very polished 55*, and the Stragglers declared at what seemed to be a satisfactory 190 for 7.
When the first over of the Milstead innings produced a double wicket maiden – Nick Wright bowling downhill with aggression and accuracy – everything seemed to be going to plan, and Nick picked up his 50th Straggler wicket. However, we have been here before. Milstead batters do not give up their wickets easily, and what became an increasingly ragged bowling attack was deposited to all corners of the ground. The aerial route was the order of the day, but when the ball is hit that hard and far, there are very few catches to put down. By the time Theo handed the ball to the Chairman (pace off an imperative) in the 20th over, the game was all but done, with only 25 required. However, absence of pace proved too much for the batter who had just passed his century, as he marched down the wicket to meet the ball and missed it – a very gentle stumping for Matt Proudman behind the wicket. Too little, too late, even with the returning Nick W (2 for 46) still bowling hard and fast. The Chairman managed to pick up another (2 for 10), but it was all over with the first ball of the 23rd over, defeat by 6 wickets. The Straggler bowling card did not make happy reading, the Milstead slope playing havoc with the elevation control of most.