With the Stragglers struggling to chase in 2019, the captain made the decision to set a total against a BOFs side captained for the first time by Archie Hammond. The game got off to a poor start as our planned opener, Joe Gordon, who managed to score a remarkable 226 from 84 balls in recent a school match, failed to check the start time of the game and was at home when he got the call to open the batting. A rare absence of the Chairman became immediately apparent as this would not have happened under his watch. Nevertheless, George Ellwood immediately got to work and settled in for a well-crafted 57 including two straight 6’s off the opening bowlers. Henry Wright, making his Straggler debut, batted with great care at number 3 and despite only managing 12 runs, looks to be a player who will complement our more attacking batsmen. As a few wickets fell, a wonderful opportunity arose for two Shepherd Neame employees at the crease. I say employees, but, with Jonty Neame being one, and Will Hilton the other, it was more a case of employer and employee… Jonty had the chance to really show Will who was boss in all situations, but the opportunity did not end well. The Master Brewer managed his first golden duck in a decade, while Will pumped the ball to all corners of the park, ending on 94 not out at the declaration. A few cameos assisting Will saw the Stragglers declaring on 233 for 6 from 52 overs.
The timely declaration allowed the Stragglers opening attack of H Snape and E Wright a few overs at the opposition before tea. Ed Wright, making his debut alongside his brother, Henry, proved to be a fantastic opening partner for Hugo. Ed bowled a measured and calm spell, while Hugo was fired up and bowling with considerable hostility. Hugo’s approach brought rewards and he managed to squeeze out three wickets in his first four overs to reduce the BOFs to 18 for 4 before tea, including a rare Straggler run out from a surprisingly alert piece of fielding, and an electric catch behind by keeper Riddell to remove the Headmaster. Despite the seam attack bowling extremely economically, the wickets began to dry up (Archie with 56, and T Sale 72), and the Stragglers had to turn to spin in order to get across the line. Jamie Letten (also on debut) was asked to bowl some leg spin and in spite of bowling some Al Smallwood-esque rippers (who would have thought that would be written at the start of the season!), the wickets did not come. In an inspired decision however, Jamie decided to chuck up some unplayable full tosses all of which lead to wickets (3 for 23) and the BOFs ended up being bowled out for 171 with four overs remaining.