Matches

St. Tropez Cricket Club

235/9 (dec) - 123/all out
Full Time
Lost by 112 runs

Match Report

The start of the 2016 season found Stragglers in some very unfamiliar conditions – warm sunshine and blue skies, on a ground surrounded by Umbrella Pines, and playing on a roll out matting wicket in the middle of a Polo field on the Cote D’Azure. The question was not whether Stragglers could cope with the buckets of rose, but whether they had the adroitness to adapt to a low slow bounce. Playing a long patient innings seems to have been bred out of Straggler batsmen, a missing piece of DNA.

The first day of the tour found a large Straggler of Scandinavian extraction scouring the supermarkets of the Cote for industrial quantities of sun cream, to deal with the sun beaming from a cloudless sky. The pitch was duly prepared (rolled out, pulled and pegged); and the Stragglers sent out to bowl. ‘Attritional’ sums up the pre-lunch spell, with runs very hard to come by, not least due to the lovely, soft grass and sand surface (suitable for polo ponies, but less good to get full value for flashing cover drives along the ground). Toby Snape bent his back but was unlikely to really frighten the batsman. With 14 runs on the board after 14 overs, and still barely above 2.5 an over by the lunch break (56 for 2 off 22 overs), the crowd could be forgiven for nodding off in the sunshine. The first wicket to fall was a sharp run out at the keeper’s end, with the batsman underestimating the power of the Munton baseball arm from long on. To say that lunch was sumptuous is to do the generosity of the catering a substantial disservice; and the rose flowed freely, which may have taken the edge off some sharp Straggler fielding In the afternoon. The game continued to meander gently through the afternoon, with runs a rarity (81 from 30, and 144 from 40 overs). A missed runout (the batsmen had already tucked his bat under his arm, when he realised that Jasper was waving ineffectually at the stumps) brought forward the suggestion that there should be an annual award in counterpoint to the ‘Champagne moment’, perhaps the ‘Irn Bru moment’ for the most memorably inept piece of play. Little did we know that STCC already had a “blonde award”, which was duly awarded to Jasper for his singular skills with the gloves.

Glen Burrell, St. Tropez skipper, opening bat and gritty Australian, was still at the other end, proving the value of tenacity and careful defence. He passed 50 eventually, but then succumbed to Theo, who caused something of a middle order collapse, as the junior members of St. Tropez also struggled with the slow wicket and offered catching practice to the fielding ring. Theo finished with 4 for 40. However, the mini-collapse brought our host, Andrew Halstead to the wicket, and he took very little pity on the flagging attack, bowlers now being used in short spells to cope with the lunchtime excess. Andrew upped the pace, and suddenly a much larger chase was on the cards. The declaration – 235 for 9 – came with the fall of the 9th wicket, just short of 59 overs, Andrew also having reached 50.

A large intake of tea was an urgent requirement if there was to be any hope of chasing the target down. A start at 11am, and 20 overs from 6pm had the potential to see more 110 overs bowled in a long day; late night exertions might take their toll. Jasper and Jack Taylor strode to the wicket, confident that they would lay a strong foundation for the chase, and began well, with runs, while not quite flowing, at least well up with the requirement. However, the challenges of an unfamiliar surface, and the need for patience saw wickets begin to fall, mostly bowled with shots across the line. Jasper (16), Robert Berkeley (1), Toby (16) and Jack (16) were back in the pavilion at 59 for 4. A stand of substance was required, and for a little while Theo (19) and Charlie (33) played with admirable patience, but were eventually undone by the even slower spin of Andrew Halstead (3 for 5 in 3 overs). When the end came it was swift and painful (at least for Toby’s big toe), with the tail subsiding meekly to 123 all out. Tomorrow, as the saying goes, is another day, and all could be rectified on Sunday.