Standard Athletic Club

313/5 dec - 278/7
Full Time
Match drawn

Match Report

After a four-year covid interruption, Stragglers re-joined the contest with Standard Athletic Club from Paris at a beautifully sunny Belmont, but with a stiff, cold north wind blowing in from the Thames estuary. It was a particular pleasure to welcome Praneeth Kumar back to Belmont – one of the stars of the two day game in 2016 (6 for 63 in the first Straggler innings).  The 2023 Straggs were led by Will Fenwick in his first formal outing as a Match Manager, and he did all that could be asked of a Match Manager on debut. He won the toss, elected to bat, scored a rapid half century prior to declaration at the second highest Straggler total on record (and retired graciously to let a mate have a brief knock), brought friends who could play cricket (one had clearly not understood the invitation, playing with a 5 iron and a complete absence of foot movement), and then brought himself on to bowl when the chase was getting away from the Stragglers, broke the opening partnership, took a screaming catch at short cover to remove the opposition skipper, and ended with 5 for 69 from a fourteen over spell. His only, very minor omission was to fail to win the match.

The Straggler innings began with a wobble, as both the Master Brewer and Olla were back in the pavilion in the 6th over, the score at 28 for 2. However, Ben Salter, the other opener, and Freddie Bowcock, both Straggler debutants, were unphased, taking quite different approaches to building an innings. Ben blocked and nurdled, running quick singles while laying a foundation with an occasional sweetly struck boundary. Freddie just wanted to hit every ball to Faversham; one defensive shot was observed quite late in his innings, but it was the only one. Ben reached a half century, and Freddie then fell one short, caught behind, in a partnership of 102. Ben continued to build, eventually caught in the deep for 89, while Henry Bushell played golf and tennis, as the bowling began to flag. Will emerged to up what was already a pretty brisk pace, reaching 55 before bowing out, and Henry was finally undone for a brutal 70. Tom Bishop, nephew to the Master Brewer, showed his uncle how to defend with soft hands, and saw the innings to a declaration at 313 for 5 (the second highest score on record for the Stragglers).

The pitch was clearly full of runs, and the declaration had offered the potential for a great chase with what proved to be 47 overs available to SAC. Openers, Henry Colburn and Aniket, were on to anything loose, and a few loose balls were offered up. Sadly, Olla was obliged to leave the field early in the chase, having engaged in a valiant, boundary-saving dive only to emerge with a broken shoulder.  Will finally had to bring himself on, as the partnership passed one hundred without a breakthrough and almost without a chance offered. His timing was perfect, as the drinks break followed immediately and as is so often the case, a batsman had let his concentration slip and Will was in. SAC did not falter, and a second wicket partnership was building nicely when Will struck again, a catch held at the fourth attempt (possibly more as the blur of a juggling Henry Theobald kept the ball in the air before finally grasping it one handed just above the turf). Will then took a seriously sharp catch to remove SAC skipper Henry, and the chase was now academic. However, the Straggler attack struggled to take advantage of the breakthrough. George Gray took a second, and Will a fifth, but an undefeated 8th wicket partnership of 52 was more than enough to see the game out to a draw. There was one moment of jeopardy towards the end, when Tom Bishop, bowling his first Straggler over, was offered technical advice by his uncle, when the first couple of balls did not quite come out as planned. Being advised on his bowling action by the Straggler bowler holding (by a comfortable margin) the record for ‘yipping out’ (Nonington, Hollingbourne and Stowting come to mind), caused all present to fear for Tom’s long term cricketing career. However, Tom shrugged it off and landed his next 16 balls to perfection.


Stalisfield Rd, Faversham ME13 0HJ, UK