|Sun 5th May 2019||2019|
2019 is turning into a season of failed chases; almost regardless of how well the first couple of Straggler batters do, the middle order collapses and the tail is not up to the task. Another cold May day at Egerton saw the Straggler opening pair, Ed (on his first outing for the season) and Seb, restrict Egerton for a very mean 44 for 1 from the opening 12 overs. And the one was important; Steve Wellard went into the game averaging 234 against the Stragglers in recent years; Ed got him LBW for 19, to bring Steve’s average back down under 127!! Take the positives when you can. However, if Steve was not going to chip the Chairman over the short straight boundary, Hamish MacLeod, having changed allegiance this week, was certainly not going to miss out. In the end, the Chairman may have had the last laugh, when Hamish (74) finally miscued slightly and Nick Wright held another exceptional running catch in the deep, but it was a very expensive exercise in the interim. Still under one hundred in the 20th over, and Stragglers actually hanging on to the odd catch (Ben was very disappointed not to be able to give up his grasp of the Lark Catching Cup, with a full length dive only to knock the ball over the boundary with his knee), the score accelerated rapidly towards the declaration. In his post-keeper incarnation, Al bowled some exceptional leg-spin, but the boundaries seemed to get ever shorter, and what proved a perfectly timed declaration at 228 for 6 was a welcome relief.
Benny opened for a second game of the weekend, and enjoyed an even shorter innings than on Saturday, stumps knocked back first ball. In fact, that first ball was the only straight ball in an over, which gave the umpire the opportunity to test out every signal imaginable. Ben had been joined by Jasper, and they entered cruise control, rattling along at 8 an over, well up with the rate, smacking boundaries through extra cover and the occasional long 6 to add a bit of variety. However, they had failed to spot that on a very small ground there was one slightly longer boundary, being patrolled by 63 year old Neil Billing. Having put on 103 for the second wicket and just reached his half century, Ben picked Neil out with unerring accuracy; and then Jasper (47) did much the same a couple of overs later. The middle order looked to have a bit more substance this week, and was just beginning to pick up the pace when disaster struck. Straggler running between the wickets has not been of the highest order this season, and, to make matters worse, it is very bad form to run out your host for dinner and a bed; Jamie Oliver called Matt (15) for a quick single which didn’t go well. Patch Clews (7), on his first Straggler outing since 2017, took full advantage of the short straight boundary, but failed to go on. Al (27) came in and reduced the required rate to a modest run a ball, but then tried to finish it in a hurry, undone by Hamish. The pressure was on Jamie (43) to hold it together and creep over the line, but he also fell to Hamish, and exposed the tail. Seb was secure, Nick Wright belligerent once too often, Ed, who has been known to use the long handle, managed to run a two, but his partner was (correctly) content with a single. Ed ran himself out by at least 15 yards. This brought the Chairman to the crease, 13 needed for victory, 11 balls to salvage a draw….but Hamish was having none of it and knocked over the off peg, defeat by 12 runs. Another excellent, if unsuccessful, game played in great company.