After the exotica of Paris for the 2014 tour, the Stragglers, with a strong Rustic component, headed north in 2015 in the footsteps of the emperor Claudius, across the Thames to the flat lands of East Anglia. Thriplow were generous hosts on a cool and windy day, and on a pitch, which proved unwilling to give up runs. An agreed toss saw the Stragglers batting, with James Boyd-Moss and Jack Taylor, fresh from victory at Wellesley House, to the fore. After an early injury to an opening bowler, James seemed well set to continue where he had left off previously, but the wicket proved more challenging, and soon both were back in the pavilion with only 30 scored. Martin Hole, appearing for the Stragglers for the first time in more than a decade blocked without back-lift and clubbed with only marginally more. Supported by Tim Martin, fenland farmer on debut, the score rumbled along comfortably. However, the wheels then came off as Martin (22) was brilliantly caught in the deep, and Tim (27*) top edged into the bridge of his nose and had to be taken to hospital – there was a lot of blood on the wicket. Our guest from Thriplow, Ritchie Turner (23), kept the score ticking, but the long tail was now exposed and proved fragile. Only John Dinnis, another very occasional Straggler, was able to deal with the slow and low track, eventually stranded on 28, as the Stragglers limped to a modest 155.
Ed Prest opened for the Stragglers, and took an over or two to find his range, challenging James behind the wicket, while insisting that he was bowling only to left handers. At the other end Ritchie demonstrated the benefits of local knowledge and, more importantly of bowling straight. Ball magnet, Jack Taylor, was soon in the action picking up the first of two slip catches, and the target suddenly loomed large and distant. 7 for 1 became 38 for 3 and then 46 for 8. Ed found his range and Ritchie (6 for 16) talked himself into a sixth over, both recognising that having the terracotta army in the field, unable to either bend or run, offered very little protection, ran through the middle order, removing much of the Thriplow talent. Tim Martin returned, bleeding staunched and nose neatly stitched, to demonstrate a rare skill – how to have every other ball scud low under the bat. It was left to number 11, Dickon Turner (Ritchie’s father), to restore something of Thriplow pride, and get the score over 100, top scoring with 26*.