It was a somewhat disparate group of Stragglers who gathered at Torry Hill, with four debutants, a 64-year-old keeper, who had played once previously for the Straggs in the mid-80s, and some making their first appearance of the season. We were delighted to have two winners of the Peter Budden Award on show, Harry Heming (2020) for the Straggs, and Archie Brown for the Junior BB, to whom the 2022 award (shared with his friend Xandy Long) was presented at tea.
The Junior BB skipper, Will Pollington, may have had misgivings about electing to bat first by the end of the first over as Tom Burge (at least 18 inches taller than when he last appeared) bowled the perfect ‘top of off stump’ ball with his third, which clipped and broke the bail before ballooning to the boundary. Two balls later, Tom managed to extract some lift from the wicket, and James Pollington (batting for both sides if required to make up for a gap) could only fend the ball up for a gently catch at second slip. Three for two from the first over was not the plan. At the other end Jasper Williams, on debut, was bowling a lovely line and length, encouraging some lovely drives from Freddie Evans (nephew and grandson of Stragglers, Joffy and Bill Sale, respectively). The occasional mis-stroke flew over the cordon to the boundary, and Jasper was unlucky to remain wicketless. Tom managed to sneak another wicket and finished with 3 for 28. The first change saw another clatter, as Oli Healy persuaded Freddie (38) to chop one on that was not quite wide enough to cut, and then Sef Rahman, also on debut, took two in the next over (one a neat catch behind by Dave Sheasby), to leave the Junior BB somewhat under the cosh at 52 for 6. Something of a recovery was mounted by skipper Will and Wilby Wood, and the score had moved along to 98 before Oli struck again (2 for 30). The coup de grace was helped along by Harry Heming (debut) who opened his Straggler account with a wicket maiden, but not before Archie Brealy had smacked a handful of boundaries over the leg side to finish undefeated on 17. 116 all out did not look like a target to challenge the Straggs.
Ned Walters (on debut) had not faced a ball in anger for some years, and there was a fist pumping celebration on surviving his first ball, and more so when he managed to steer one through the slips to the boundary. However, all good things come to an end, and Ned was castled by skipper Will for 5. At the other end Harry H was just getting into his stride, finding the boundary regularly enough and blocking studiously when required. Oli Healy joined him briefly, before Jeremy ‘the blocker’ Godden arrived to see the innings home with a partnership of 80. Jeremy allows the ball to hit the bat, and with an electric outfield, these gentle prods and nurdles sped to the boundary. The chase was wrapped up, when Harry despatched a chest high no ball for six, ending undefeated on 71*, with Jeremy 21*, a victory by 8 wickets (or is it 7 as we were batting 10?).