I can’t recall the last time sheep were allowed to graze on the outfield at Lords before a game, or ground staff required to deploy pooper scoopers in earnest. Such is the rural idyll that is Otterden, that Little Bo Peep might well have opened the batting. In the event Giles Brealy (101) and Jonathan Neame (38) opened for the Stragglers with great gusto, racing along at nearly 10 an over, before an umpiring change allowed the application of a near unanimous boundary vote to remove Jonathan LBW. The middle order wobbled somewhat, and Giles, puffing like a broken steam engine, was finally run out by his runner (deployed when he had reached 50). A brace of Smallwoods (Jasper 28 and Al 40) cut loose once more, but the innings subsided somewhat to 245 for 9, as the final pair could not manage to find the boundary, probably distracted by the mountainous tea on display. Giles is only the fifth Straggler to reach 5 centuries, his first coming in 1998.
The Otterden upper order always sets off with intent, and it didn’t take long for fielders to be recovering the ball from amongst the ovine spectators. Simon Allport, however, was weaving enough of his magic to remove the opening pair, in spite of almost every incoming batsman apparently needing to hit the first ball faced for 6. There was palpable relief, when a miscue, hit high enough to be picked up by the radar at Manston, was held at mid off. Wickets continued to fall, Giles picking up 2 catches at slip, and Al snaffling anything that came his way behind the stumps. In a season lacking in wicket keeper success, Al is making up for lost time as the season comes to a close. Jasper also threw himself into the action with a brace of run outs, batsmen foolishly taking him on in the covers. Otterden, however, have a habit of hanging on to the draw, and once more they saw off Eliot’s schemes, ending 191 for 9.