Primary Club of Australia

277/2 dec - 258/9
Full Time
Match drawn

Match Report

Three days after the waterlogged Australian retention of the Ashes at Old Trafford, the Stragglers welcomed the Primary Club of Australia to Belmont (with a fair bit of kit envy) on a glorious July day with the air full of dragonflies. The Primary Club, on tour in England for the Ashes, were introduced to the Stragglers by an occasional Parisian opponent from Standard Athletic Club, Chris Brown, who, very sadly, was obliged to remain in Australia and not make a return to Belmont. The Stragglers ‘lost’ the toss and were invited to bat. Jasper and Hugo were met by one of the more chirpy wicket keepers currently in England (by comparison, Benny, a vocal Straggler keeper, is positively Trappist). The keeper was marginally less vocal after the first ball hit him amidships.  The openers were obliged to address some very tidy opening overs, the rare loose ball being punished but there was plenty of time to ease into the innings. It was, therefore, something of a surprise to see Jasper wave at a straight one and depart LBW in the seventh over. James Felton joined Hugo, and together they began to dominate. Hugo reached a half century in the 19th over, followed shortly thereafter by James. The Primary Club attack varied pace and line, but Hugo and James just kept accumulating. Hugo was just relaxing into the idea of lunch when he lost concentration for a moment, miscued a drive fractionally and was very well held by Andrew Wildblood at mid-on for 77 (Andrew was duly awarded the “Chris Brown champagne moment” for a fine catch off his toes). The partnership of 120 was brought to an end a mere six minutes before lunch, which was taken with the Stragglers on 145 for 2. Will emerged after an exceptional lunch with a degree of circumspection, but then began to launch a series of bombs into the far distance, boundaries all too short. James was almost keeping pace and they approached the next milestones in tandem (James on 98 and Will on 48). Will got to his half century first. James then had a little flurry of nerves, offering a chance which was put down (a passing Spitfire possibly distracting the fielder) and rather crept over the line to his first Straggler century. They had batted at such a good pace, that the declaration could be taken slightly ahead of time after 45 overs, James on 101* and Will 82*, and the total 277 for 2 (an unbeaten partnership of 137*).

The Primary Club had plenty of time, 14 overs to tea and it turned out to be 36 thereafter, but the openers needed very little invitation to get the chase underway. A couple of tight overs from Freddy Evans and Jasper Williams saw them set their sights, and then begin to up the tempo (even with the occasional loss of shoes and studs while running sharp singles). Something unexpected was required to break the partnership, and the Chairman turned to Charlie (who had spent the afternoon with his pads on). Charlie was then despatched for a few, but he made the crucial breakthrough having Primary Club man of the match, Greg Stark, LBW in an over which had cost 18 runs. At 90 for 1 after 15 overs, the chase was well on track. Alex Reese and Kieran Premnath were introduced to slow the ball even more, and both saw success, Alex benefitting from Will ‘buckets’ Hilton at deep square leg, who took a remarkable diving catch, the first of three pouched by Will in the same spot. Kieran (2 for 37) bowled the perfect spinner’s ball to clip the top of leg and reduce the Primary Club to 140 for 4 in the 25th. But the batsmen kept coming, and time seemed to be on their side. Sef ‘golden arm’ Rahman induced the second of Will’s catches, this one a more regulation offering – 184 for 5, but with the required rate coming down. Reverting to pace, Hugo was brought on, and the opening bowlers came back on in sequence. Freddie (2 for 29) delivered with his first ball, a short one catching a fine edge through to Jasper. Another in the over, caught by Will (who else?) was followed by an LBW decision in Hugo’s favour, and the chase finally faltered – 230 for 8 with seven overs left. Now the Stragglers were on top and looking for the last two wickets, but Primary Club were still in the hunt, even when maths began to elude them (eight ball overs really are a thing of the past). Jasper bowled number ten, 243 for 9, but even with the draw being the best outcome for the Primary Club, the final batsman was keen to see if he could pull of a surprise with sixes and no balls (neither materialised as Kieran tossed balls up invitingly). It was only when the maths become undeniable that he blocked the final ball for a wonderfully exciting draw – 258 for 9, a modest 20 runs short, and for the Stragglers, the end to a run of four defeats. A fifth consecutive defeat would have taken us into new territory.

It was a great pleasure learn a little the ‘Primary Club of Australia’, a charity ‘founded in 1974 by a few cricket tragics’, to raise funds to support those with disabilities participate in sport Thanks for introducing the Primary Club to the Stragglers are due to Chris Brown, whose career against the Stragglers included winning the champagne moment in the two-day game against Standard Athletic Club in 2014 for a wonderful catch and enjoying the very rare distinction of three consecutive dismissals by the Chairman.

We enjoyed the most wonderful, competitive game, much appreciated the contribution of umpire, Steve Ward, and scorer, Ian Wright, and we very much look forward to future visits by the Primary Club.  The Stragglers also need to up their game on tour fines.  The session in the (wet) garden of the Red Lion opened up a whole new world of possibility.


Stalisfield Rd, Faversham ME13 0HJ, UK