Matches

St Lawrence & Highland Court

277/8 (dec) - 278/9
Full Time
Lost by 1 wicket

Match Report

The Stragglers returned to St. Lawrence & Highland Court, one of the oldest Straggler opponents, for the first time since 2010 (scene of a Toby Russell-Vick hat-trick). And what a game it proved to be – 555 runs scored, 17 wickets taken, copious runs conceded in the field by both sides on a dry, fast and bumpy outfield. It went down to the wire, all four results possible at the start of the final over, and eventually decided on the penultimate ball. It doesn’t get any better (unless you were one of the bowlers carted round the park). The Straggler openers perished early – 6 for 2, and in the absence of a brace of Smallwoods, Jack Wood (35) and Jonathan Neame (22) found themselves settling in for a rebuild. If the bowler pitched the ball in the same spot that Jack might see a golf ball, the long irons come into play; and Jonathan was busy cutting anything with width to the short cover boundary. Both fell in quick succession, one club light doing for Jack, and cutting a straight one for Jonathan. Al came and went, which brought Ben Simpson in to join Jasper, and the innings caught fire. Ben got to 50 first, then Jasper went on the charge, eventually bowled for 79. With a declaration now in sight, Ben hit one big over – declaration delayed to allow him to get to a ton. Sadly, one blow too many, and Ben was caught at cover, out for an exceptional 91 (Ben’s other sport is very clear in some of his stroke-play – he looks every inch the tennis player at the crease). Jasper and Ben put on 162 for the 6th wicket, a new record, comfortably surpassing the 127 set by James Ryeland and Joffy Sale at Benenden in 1988. 277 for 8 declared gave Charlie Mac some confidence.

That confidence took something of a knock in the opening overs of the Highland Court innings, as the approximate 9 required an over seemed to be a mere stroll in the park, as they rattled along at 11. The fast outfield seemed faster, the bumps more awkward, the fielders less confident and the Straggler opening bowlers felt the heat. Hamish MacLeod managed one LBW so plumb, that the batsman walked before the finger went up. Then it required a bit of surprise and guile as both Ben and Jack found the leg side, waist high full toss very effective. However, the score was 115 for 3 from 11; even wickets didn’t have much effect on momentum, and only brought the Kiwi pro to the crease. Pace off the ball and make the batsmen work for the big hits, better with a bit of wobble; suddenly the middle order were wobbling as well. The run rate came down to less than 7 an over (even with the Chairman hit for 22 by Will Hilton in four balls), Al took one off the back of Will’s bat attempting a sweep before the arrival of the ball, 6 wickets fell in quick succession, and everything was possible. The HC score stood at 227 for 9, with 6 overs left for the final 51, everything to play for, nip and tuck to the last. Ruaridh MacLeod, batting 11 for Highland Court, and facing brothers bowling from both ends, stood firm; two sixes back over long on, and the scores were level with 2 balls left. A miscue, ball in the air, surely it couldn’t end in a tie; a Straggler stumble and the ball went to ground – 278 for 9 was enough.