A hot and sultry Belmont greeted Standard Athletic Club to the annual fixture in memory of Toby and, more recently, Jimmy Cox, and we were delighted to welcome Libby and Andrew for a picnic lunch at the ground. The game, surprisingly and not in the free hitting style typical of Toby, turned into a slow grind under a tropical sun.
Jasper won the toss and decided that this year the Stragglers would chase. However, in spite of a lively start (47 for 2 from 10), the long outfield, some accurate bowling and excellent catching, kept the score from moving along; SAC found that 3 runs an over was something of a struggle. Jonathan Neame held on to a skier at long-off, up for enough time for a book to be opened on the likely outcome by his team mates, and laid off in Mumbai. Ben got back to his favourite position at point to snaffle a couple from Theo, and Theo returned the favour with a fine diving catch at mid-on to bring up the tea break – 128 for 7 from 41 overs. SAC batted on for another 14 overs after tea, before the declaration arrived at 186 for 8 (Nick Wright taking a fine catch to remove Alastair Thomas for 48).
The Stragglers were now in a hurry – 26 overs available to chase the target. Al and Jonathan allowed one over to get a feel for the conditions and then took off, with 16 hit off each of the second and third overs – ahead of the pace, the ball flying to all parts, and Jonathan obliged to run four 3s in quick succession, blowing like a steam engine. Al perished for 23, Ben (17) continued the good work, the score now at 76 for 2 from 8. Jasper managed to smash a shot though the covers into the hands of a fielder, who was somewhat surprised to find he actually had the ball in hand; the pace began to fall away. Two wickets in the 11th over, and the chase was almost derailed. The load fell to Jonathan to marshal the tail and see the Stragglers home; he got to 50 and then was unlucky to be bowled by a yorker, which had hit both pads on the way through. From 104 at the fall of the 6th wicket, Benny and Seb Leggett blocked with distinction, eschewing all but the most leisurely of singles. They managed to get all the way to 118 in the final half of the innings, comfortably keeping the SAC attack at bay.
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