A gorgeous warm September afternoon found the Stragglers back at Street End to rejoin the contest with long-time opponent Sasha Azizi. Over many years Sasha has scored a huge number of runs against the Stragglers, but today he sent in some of the young guns to get the innings off to a flier. Justin Hubbard, not a regular slot for him, and Ed kept it sufficiently full and straight to induce some impatience, and the wickets began to fall. At 51 for 4, however, the old pros were at the crease, and the run rate began to increase. Harry Churchill, bowling his first Straggler overs, had not previously met somebody of Sasha’s experience and patience, but managed to keep enough control. In the end it was Archie who did for Sasha walking down the wicket, the first of two stumpings for Al, and, with three catches in the innings, a wicket keeping ‘5 for’. Theo also picked up three catches in the outfield, as Street End rather meandered to 167 for 9 from 40 overs.
Archie Hammond (32) and Ed Motley began smartly enough, defending with confidence and attacking the occasional bad ball. When Ed departed Joe Gordon continued in the same vein. A slight wobble in the seventies saw Joe, Sam Esser and Archie all back in the pavilion, but this just gave Jonathan and Al space and time to build a partnership. Runs were never easy, but they were always ahead of the pace. Al (42*) benefited from a drop in the covers, and rediscovered enthusiasm for batting; Jonathan (55*) was on the top of his game (pains me as it does to say so); the partnership worth 94*. With a last chance change of pace, Sasha introduced a younger bowler, who managed a pair of high no balls to start, both hit to the boundary, and suddenly it was all over, a win by 6 wickets with time to spare. A great game for Al, 5 scalps behind the stumps, batting with confidence, and, in taking his fifth victim, Al became the third to join a very select group of Straggler keepers (and the first since 1974) to have secured 14 dismissals behind the stumps in a season. He joins RCS Barclay (1950) and RAH Lee (1974).