Both 99th and 100th Straggler centuries were reached with monstrous sixes, both struck into the garden of Otterden Place by, respectively, Simon Allport and Al Smallwood. The pair put on 195 for the third wicket (not quite a record) in setting a total of 303 for 3, the third highest Straggler total, and the first over 300 since 1997. Jasper Smallwood’s crisply struck half century seemed rather steady going by comparison, and it was left to the third Smallwood present, Matt, to marshal the strike in the final over to give Al the opportunity to finish the job. The Stragglers have only posted two centuries in a match twice previously, both at Benenden in 1993 (Philip and Skinner) and 1999 (Cox and Cox).
The Stragglers have yet to win at Otterden, each year getting slightly closer, and this proved to be the most tantalising. Eliot Forster plucked out an off stump, but a stubborn, and pretty fluent second wicket pair didn’t look in much difficulty, until that most dangerous of balls, the slow full toss, was thrown up by Will Renwick and duly pouched by Jasper. A couple more fell and at 132 for 4, any thought of a chase was over. However, number 6 struck the ball like a bullet, and he was duly shredding the bowlers’ figures and fielders’ fingers. He had not, however, come across Jasper, who plucks bullets from the air for fun. Nobody else in the ground saw the ball between bat and hand, as Jasper, following up his own bowling, took it with consummate nonchalance. Wickets just kept on falling, and at 9 down with four overs left, the Stragglers had a real sniff of victory. In a final throw of the dice, the Master Brewer, being rested for Hollingbourne, was introduced for the final over, but to no avail – 199 for 9 at the close of another excellent game in a wonderful setting.