|Sun 13th September 2020||2020|
The Straggler season came to an end at Street End on a day when England (with fewer spectators than the Stragglers once more) managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after a modest performance with the bat. The Straggler batting, with a couple of notable exceptions, was also modest, but the bowlers were then not able to engineer the same unlikely outcome as Archer and Woakes. Winning the toss, George elected to bat; with a strong top order, that was the obvious decision, and it all began well as Jasper (18) and Fred Sharp (12) put on a steady 31 in the opening overs. However, we have faced Paul Betts before, and he can be sharply effective, and he proved so again, removing both openers with consecutive balls. The position got worse as Ben and both Patches followed in steady succession; 57 for 5 looked pretty ordinary. George, however, was still at the crease, giving nothing away, and hitting the occasional bad ball hard to the boundary. The change bowlers did not release the pressure, and wickets continued to fall. When George (50) miscued and was followed shortly by Archie Brealy (5), on debut, the score had slipped to 116 for 8. A last gasp was provided by Jamie Adams (31*), who hit a series of enormous sixes into the field, while his partner, a rejuvenated Mark BW, elected to block every ball and run as little as possible. When Mark (1) was out clipping to short third man, they had added 30 to the total and a modicum of respectability had been restored. The Chairman duly fell to a direct hit in a vain attempt to get Jamie back on strike for the final two balls of the innings. 146 all out, much like England’s 231 for 9 at Old Trafford, did not seem enough.
After the final ball excitement of 2019 to decide the destination of at least one award, 2020 was a more sober affair. Toby just needed to complete 7 overs to qualify for and win the bowling award. His first over produced a moment of hope in the match, as he produced the perfect off-stump yorker. However, the run rate just kept ahead of the modest target, and, in spite of both Toby and Jamie keeping the opening spell tight, the change bowlers at the top end lacked the penetration produced by their Street End counterparts. Mark BW did surprise a batsman with one that jagged back, to take his 152nd Straggler wicket, and Ben Simpson caught an edge which flew through to Jasper keeping wicket. Even the returning Toby was only able to briefly delay the inevitable. With the scores level at 146, it did take Street End another 11 balls (a maiden from Archie) and the loss of a wicket, wonderfully caught one handed by Ben, before the winning run was scored. A loss by 6 wickets the most substantial Straggler defeat for more than 2 years (at Tarbarrow in 2018).
George retained the batting award, the only batsman to have completed 4 innings, averaging 59.33. Toby bowled the necessary 7 overs to be one of only three to complete 25 in the shortened season, and ended up with 11 wickets at 9.09 to relieve his brother of the bowling award; Ben’s catch took him to 6 for the season, one in which nobody else had taken more than two.