Graham Smith, our very generous host at Provender, always has something (or usually someone) up his sleeve to keep the Stragglers on their toes and dancing; and this year it was no different, as Straggler openers, Simon Allport and Jasper Smallwood, faced up to the ferocious pace of Ady Hussein. Simon took a few blows before the inevitable rattle allowed him to return to the relative safety of the pavilion. Sadly the weather intervened just as Jasper and Toby Snape were getting into their stride, coming off at 31 for 1. Provender was fortunate in catching only the edge of a storm, which flooded grounds further west, and after a very long and substantial tea, the rain eased, the covers were removed and time remaining allowed a T20 to be played.
Again the Stragglers batted, and again Hussein, off his short run, proved to be a trifle brisk, only going for 8 from his four overs. Hoping to up the rate against the other opening bowler, Jasper scooped a ball to cover and was back in the hutch without scoring. Toby, however, was imperious, clubbing a 32 ball half century including 6 sixes en route to 61. The Master Brewer (25) and Charlie Munton (18) chipped in, but failed to go on. Late call-ups Nigel Snape and Matt Smallwood pushed on at the end, but the momentum had slowed, and 143 for 7 looked a little light.
Ed Prest picked up a wicket in the first over, and Toby kept up the pressure at the other end, but, as in 2013, a couple of catches went to ground, and Provender do not forgive casual fielding. The Chairman managed to induce a couple of miscued drives, the second of which was taken spectacularly by a racing Stabb hard by the boundary; Toby came back to remove Marsh for 66; in the end Provender cruised home with more than 3 overs to spare.