The challenge facing a skipper when he wins the toss is that he has to make a decision. And of late, those winning the toss and batting (the obvious choice when the sun is out) have failed to make it count. Sarfraz Ahmed was fooled by a momentary glimpse of the sun at Headingley; Hugo was dazzled by the most beautiful day Gloucestershire had seen in a decade, but had not heard the Groundsman make mention of managing ducks on an underwater wicket on Thursday. Tarbarrow CC is hidden from the world by woods, and on a glorious day, there is no lovelier place to play cricket. It was not such a glorious day for Jasper, who suffered the first golden duck of his life, playing round a straight one. The Straggler innings continued to stumble as the lack of pace and big outfield made runs hard to find. At 28 for 3, things did not look to be going to plan; as our star guest, MV Fleming was heard to comment “never a good sign, when the scorer asks who is batting at 7 during the first over”. However, cometh the hour and all that, an immovable object was found and a Partnership developed. When Nigel (16) was eventually out, the score had moved on to 92, and stability had returned. Matthew flourished briefly before offering a hard to chance to short fine leg. At 120 for 6 in the 31st over, a score over 175 would have been accepted. However, Patch had been joined by Toby, and the innings caught fire. In spite of a couple of early miscues, Toby got his range, and Patch was in elegant control. At the close of the innings, both had reached milestones, Patch 106* (his fourth Straggler century, and first since 2010), and Toby’s final ball boundary took him to 50*, the score now 213 for 6.
The pitch continued to dry, the outfield seemed to shrink, and Tarbarrow came in to bat. Hugo rattled the stumps early on, but the batsmen were patient and effective. There were enough short balls to keep the score moving along, and it was not until the 18th over that a miscue was well held by a limping Nick Wright at wide mid-off. Bowling changes came and went, but only Hugo really held the line, his overs going for a miserly 24 runs. A couple of terracotta drops did not help matters, and it was all too late, when Toby finally removed the other opener, Alex Delamain, for 96, and Ed Gordon Lennox for 47. Tarbarrow sealed a 6 wicket victory with the last ball of the 38th over, the first Straggler defeat since 25thJune 2017.