The exigencies of return flights, and a gentle fall of rain at 10.30, meant that the second game was to be played over 35 overs, with less time to get acclimatised to the track. Batting first the Straggler upper order collapsed to 18 for 3, although off 11 overs, it was a very slow collapse. Charlie proved the rare Straggler batsmen prepared to wait for the bad ball (or full toss) and despatch it for 6, while treating anything straight with respect. Supported well by Chris Lark (10), who unfurled a handsome array of drives, all of which went straight along the slow turf to fielders, the score recovered to 88 for 4 by lunch (again sumptuous is an inadequate description). Sadly the break did for Charlie (45), and it was now left to Tom Wood (21) and Rob Berkeley (22) to hit some long irons and set a target worthy of the name. Supported by Toby (26), held back due to his injured toe, but still teeing off with great aplomb, the score now moved forward with some momentum, 72 runs coming from the last 10 overs. The finale was a bit of a damp squib, and the last three wickets fell in the final over, the Stragglers all out for 164. With a total of four run outs in the Straggler innings, it was not just the slow track or the overnight activities, but a singular inability to call with any appreciation of risk that handed the momentum back to the opposition more than once.
With bowlers limited to 7 overs each, the Stragglers were a bowler down (limping Toby), but had the advantage of having held back Jasper from the day before. And this proved to be a successful strategy, as Jasper once again proved the value of very carefully and precisely placing the off-side field, and then bowling a ball with a very different intent and fooling the batsmen into a miscue to leg. At 27 for 2 in the 10th, there was a wobble. When the next wicket fell at 65, a steepling catch very well taken out of the sun by Theo running from behind the stumps to mid-wicket, and only 15 overs left to get 100, the match was tightly poised. Wides had come into play for the limited overs format (both sides were heavily penalised by professional Umpire, Simon Allport, released for the weekend by the IPL); but the real ‘gimme’ ball was the full toss, and the Stragglers offered up a few too many pies, which were duly dispatched into the distance. In spite of the occasional mayhem, Theo and Jasper kept just enough control to take the game into the final over, but it was not to be – 165 for 3 duly achieved with 3 balls remaining.
A fabulous way to start the season, in the sunshine, hard by the Mediterranean, you wonder why the French have never taken to cricket? We were royally looked after by our hosts at the St. Tropez Cricket Club, and the playing party have all been added to the STCC circulation list to be called up for the occasional game in the sun.
|St. Tropez Polo Club|