I am pretty sure that a second ball duck at Folkestone was not part of Will Hilton’s plan to put Jasper’s or George’s grip on the 2019 batting trophy under pressure. However, with the score at 0 for 1, Will was wandering back to the pavilion to raucous applause, and the door opened for Tom Wood to shine in the middle. And shone he did, cruising past a maiden Straggler half-century and seeing a couple of Wrights back to the pavilion as well – Ed (34) and Henry (9). It must be noted that Ed has now been at the crease three times for the Stragglers, and only out once, averaging a modest 195. The drinks break did for Tom (57), his concentration undone as he waved at a straight one. Toby (17) hit one monster 6 and perished, to allow Jasper (42) and Theo (26) to build a middle order partnership, but nobody had Tom’s resilience, and wickets kept tumbling. On reaching 37, Jasper passed another milestone, the fifth Straggler to score 4,000 career runs. The late order collapse was ably assisted by Toby “the trigger” Snape who did for Jasper, Will Fenwick (22) and Al in short order, to leave Hugo and the Chairman to face the last few balls and build on what seemed a trifle modest – 227 for 9 at the close.
Toby was involved again immediately after the tea break with a ferocious flat throw to the top of the stumps to run out a Folkestone opener in the third over, and then produced an absolute ‘jaffa’ to clip the top of off to remove his partner – with his three wickets in the Straggler innings, one of the more unusual Straggler “5 fors” on record. However, this brought the key Folkestone partnership to the crease; Nick Ward had scored an unbeaten 101 in the 2018 fixture, and did not seem unduly phased by anything the Stragglers hurled at him today. Possibly rattled by Ed Wright’s dismissal of his partner, he failed to pick up total absence of pace on the first ball of the next over to be found plumb in front. At 91 for 4 from 20 overs and with the key batters back in the hutch, the Stragglers looked to have it in the bag, but then failed to press home, allowing the next pair to rebuild. Indeed, when they had reached 166 with 10 overs left and going at more than 8 an over, it looked as if the Stragglers were letting the game slip away. Hugo brought himself back on to bowl three maidens, Toby nicked a batter out (an all-purpose “6 for”) and Al got involved. Theo took a running catch and then a stumping, and the chase was over. Al managed to get two more in the final over (4 for 30), although Hugo had to be reminded that he was still fielding, as he failed to spot the ball looping in his general direction. 197 for 9 at the close looks a bit more emphatic than seemed likely a few overs earlier.