A high-quality game was nearing a tense finish at Provender, when the weather intervened, for the first time this season, and very disappointing for all involved. The Stragglers had been asked to field on a day with plenty of dark clouds threatening. A pair of Snapes opened the bowling and gave nothing away; at the ten over mark, the score had drifted to 32 for 1 (the one being former Kent captain Steve Marsh). However, batting at 3 for Provender was Jameel Stuart, freshly arrived in Kent from first class cricket in Barbados, and then burning up northern leagues with weight of runs. With the change bowlers on (honourable exception was Patch Mitchell, very tight for his 8), Jameel began to find his range, and his range was very long indeed. Not many Stragglers had seen a cricket ball hit so far (polar search parties have rarely gone further), and rarely is a bowler offered an opportunity to bowl with 4 different balls in an over. George made a breakthrough with a wonderful pick up and long throw to knock over middle stump and run out a partner, but Jameel’s century was inevitable (115 from 95 balls). But then a miscue, and Theo took a remarkable running catch (along with two wickets) to bring some semblance of order to the final few overs. Theo had already been putting down a very firm marker for the champagne moment(s), with not one, but two catches over the boundary, feet off the ground, ball flicked back into play. Indeed, the first of these might have resulted in a wicket, if the supporting fielders had been a bit more agile and alert… Your correspondent believes that this is the first (and second) time that a Straggler catch over the boundary has saved a six; the usual Straggler condition is feet firmly planted. The innings ended in a final flurry of boundaries, at 253 for 6, not as much as had been feared, when Jameel was motoring at nearly 20 an over.
Jasper and George knew that they had time, and built a patient foundation, almost seeing off the opening bowlers, only for George catch a fine edge. Jasper followed soon after, making, for him in this season of excess, a rather modest 36. Charlie MacLeod in for the long haul, blocked and nurdled for a few overs, now with a steady procession of departing partners, before beginning to open his shoulders. When the weather intervened, Charlie (62*) and Toby had upped the tempo to over 10 an over, putting pressure on the bowlers, and 105 were required from the final 9 overs. Graham Smith, our generous host at Provender, has enjoyed remarkable good fortune with the weather over many years, and this was his first game, for which a result was not possible.