|Sun 23rd August 2015|
The weather has caused no end of disruption to the 2015 fixtures, and, when the rain began once more at 11.30, it seemed that another game would be called off. Fortunately the Chairman lives on a hill and could see the line of sunshine heading towards Tenterden from the sea; the game was on, and, some rather belatedly, the Stragglers were playing cricket again. On the basis that there were only 7 Stragglers present, when play began, we batted first. In the 2014 fixture, Tenterden bowler Tommy Richards took 8 for 19 in 17 overs. When Finn Hulbert was bowled by Tommy for 17, with no more Stragglers yet on the scene, there was certain sense of déjà vu, and a degree of panic. However, Justin Hubbard had other ideas, and when Matt Simpson had got over his first careless stroke (dropped behind), he too began to build an innings. When Matt was finally out for 72, the partnership was worth 155, and Matt had pulled a full range of shots out of the locker – scoops, reverse sweeps and much more. The batting order was hastily rearranged, but Billy Richardson and Tom Wood arrived just in time to meet Tommy Richards on his second spell, and were summarily dispatched. Patch “from the pub” Clews, however, tucked into the bowling at the other end. When the declaration came, the score was 271 for 4, with Justin undefeated on 112, a knock of real class, and Patch on 37. 271 for 4 is the 6th highest ever Straggler total.
With a huge total to chase, Tenterden needed to start well, but were swiftly undone by Louis Glyn Williams, firstly with a bouncer that didn’t bounce and took the off stump, and then with a ferocious flat throw from fine leg to the bowler’s end to run out the next batter – 5 for 2 was not part of the plan. Billy bowled a brief but ferocious spell, conceding little. Patch Clews now earned his new soubriquet – “Stokesy” – with a good all-rounder’s knack of picking up wickets with unlikely balls. Deciding not to use the facilities, Patch bowled a series of full-bungers, two of which were no-balled aimed at the batsman’s head, including a catch at mid-off; he lowered the gun site a few degrees, and bowled Tommy Richards with another full toss, this time at legal height. In the next over he had the surviving opener caught by Billy at slip, and all thoughts of the chase had gone. With the anchor now firmly dropped, the Chairman had the unusual luxury of bowling to a field with all 10 fielders in a circle within 10 feet of the bat. Finn Hulbert came on to bowl spin, and with his doosra had batsman, keeper, umpires and fielders all looking one way, while the ball trickled over the boundary for 4 byes somewhere completely different. Finn made the breakthrough, finishing with 3 for 6, and the Chairman chipped in bowling numbers 9 and 10 to speed up the last rights – 79 all out. Victory by 192 runs is the third largest Straggler winning margin, when batting first.