It is always a pleasure to be back at Stowting, possibly the current fixture with the longest Straggler pedigree, and one of the lovelier grounds in Kent, nestled into the south slope of the Downs. An arranged toss saw debutant and younger brother of skipper Seb, James Leggett, open the batting with Stan Weir. Stan had been denied a bat on his debut at Belmont, and now set about making up for lost time. The short Stowting boundaries can be generous, and the fielders were generous as well with catches dropped, allowing Stan to reach his half century in the 9th over. Indeed, Stan was batting as if we were playing a T20, launching into almost everything. At the other end, James was hitting the ball with even more power (we lost 4 during the innings), but marginally more sedately. When Stan was out for 55, James was joined by Patch Mitchell for a pretty relentless display of controlled power hitting. Together they put on 168 for the second wicket, the declaration coming with the dismissal of Patch for 83, and James undefeated on 107*. A score of 256 for 2 looked enough.
Nick W and skipper Seb opened up, and, with a possible 47 overs available, they could afford to be patient and work out the batters. Nick struck twice in his spell, the leg stump yorker in his second over a real gem, of which Mitchell Starc would be proud. Nick induced a sharp edge to second slip, where Seb was impressive in his imitation of Tom Daly diving with a twist and double somersault, but failing to gather the ball. The experienced Stowting bats at the crease were not going to give up without a struggle, keeping the Chairman and Patch Clews at bay. It needed a man in form to make the breakthrough, and we had a man in form to hand. In his third over, the 27th of the innings, Al induced the false shot, a catch was held at slip by Charlie Kingsman (one of the more straight forward slip catches looping high). With the door ajar and the lower order coming to the crease, Al bowled a second, 103 for 4. Will Sackett, occasional Aussie Straggler, now weighed in with 2 in two balls, the first of which removed a very hard hitting number 6. The hat-trick ball was kept out, but Al was now bowling at the youngsters in the Stowting team; they were unable to resist the full toss, and the final wicket fell to a Clews catch at gully (Patch still dreaming of batting glory…in another world). For the second week in succession, Al had claimed 5 victims – for 5 for 33; it will take a fair bit of research to find the last time a Straggler bowler managed that feat. Stowting were all out for 135 in the 37th over, another good win in a season marked by success when batting first.