After a mid-season break to allow England to lift the World Cup in very exciting, if possibly controversial circumstances, it was back to normal for a very young Straggler side at Torry Hill against the Junior BB – bat first, bat hard and then run through the opposition. However, the Junior BB did not give up easily and with 6 overs remaining the odds were firmly on the draw. The Stragglers opened with Oli Healy (10), fresh from a big innings for the Junior BB in Hampshire, and Jamie Chapman (30), better known as a golfer. They did well to very nearly see off the pace of Ben Falcon, and set a sound base for a big score. Freddy Geffen at number 3 had all the time in the world to work the ball around and past the fielders, and eased the innings up a gear. When he was joined by Tom Tribe at the fall of the second wicket, the pace changed completely. Tom has one gear only, and had taken careful note of the long boundaries in almost every direction – they were a challenge to be addressed, and addressed they were. Towering sixes vanished into the trees, and the Junior BB bowling took some severe punishment. Tom reached his half century ahead of Freddy, content in cruise control, and Tom went on to hit 8 sixes in 103*, surviving a couple of hard chances on remote boundary edges. Benny was keen to summon the batters in for the declaration, but gave Freddy one last over to get his ton – 27 needed. 4, 4, 6, 4 – it was looking good, but the fifth ball was miscued and the last ball, needing a single to try to persuade Benny to relent on the declaration, beat the bat and Freddy was smartly stumped for 91. 254 for 3 from 26 overs was sufficiently daunting.
The Junior BB set off to chase the target down, and the declaration had given them at least 36 overs. An early Straggler breakthrough saw Inigo Pullen caught sensationally by Tom Tribe at second slip (a sentence very rarely seen in Straggler match reports) fingers inches above the turf from the bowling of brother Rufus. Rufus winkled out the other opener, but James Pollington and Ben Falcon were not unduly troubled and pushed on, the run rate still achievable, to 102 for 2 with 18 overs remaining. Two quick wickets, an Oli Healy yorker and a very safe catch by Joe Gordon at deep mid-on, and the chase was off; hang on for a draw. Ten overs on with the score on 149 for 4, 8 overs left, the draw was very much favourite. At this point Matt stepped in with some paternal advice for skipper Benny (“don’t be the first Straggler skipper batting first to fail to win in 2019!”); Benny accelerated the rate of bowler rotation, introduced Freddy Geffen to the attack and, suddenly, wickets tumbled. Catches (or most of them) went to hand, Freddy ended up with 4 for 15, a panicky run-out brought number 11 to the wicket, and the coup de grace was only delayed by a Will Jones no-ball which had neatly trimmed off stump. He did it again with a legal delivery and it was all over – 169 all out, the final 5 wickets having fallen in 18 balls. And great for Benny to introduce a number of new Stragglers to the Club.