Tonbridge School

216/8 - 219/7
Full Time
40 overs
Won by 3 wickets

Match Report

After the wettest February in the south of England since records began nearly two hundred years ago, Stragglers were delighted to find a covered wicket at Tonbridge School, which had avoided the worst of the weather. However, the weather was not quite ready for spring, the warmth of the previous weekend put on hold and a cold north wind blowing down the east coast.  8oC at the toss is a trifle fresh.  And skipper, Toby was under some pressure to redeem himself from the big defeat of 2022.

The Tonbridge openers came out with a ‘Bazball’ mindset – hit everything, and were off at nearly 8 an over, anything off-line from Straggler openers, Will Falcon and Nick Wright, finding the boundary. The openers were separated when Will found an edge, and Benny, behind the stumps, took a remarkable one-handed diving catch coming off the wrong foot (49 for 1 in the 7th).  Tonbridge kept coming, but the Straggs slowly began to squeeze. Runs became harder to find, boundaries further apart.  Theo induced an edge, which flew to Toby at slip. Just getting a hand to the ball was an achievement, but Toby’s juggling circus act fell to ground – recorded as four drops from one ball.  With another couple of catches going to ground, it was beginning to look as if 2024 was going to continue the story of fielding failures of 2023. Toby was offered something more straight forward almost immediately, as a gentle catch off Tom T looped to him at short extra (109 for 2 in the 20th).  A rough rule of thumb is that a batting side will double their score at 25 overs by the end of a 40 over innings. At the end of the 25th, Tonbridge were 135 for 2, a big chase on the cards. However, the squeeze continued (Dan Howlett particularly effective), and the Straggs continued to chip away. Tom (2 for 22) found an edge.  Kieran was introduced, bowled a wide followed by a slightly less wide half volley – only for the batsman to smack the ball to Toby for a sharper catch at extra. Kieran picked up another (2 for 33), and then Will Fenwick had a lot of time to prepare for a catch at mid-off (much hand waving). With lunch fixed for 1pm, the players trooped off at the end of the 36th over, the score at 192 for 6. Returning for the final flourish, Toby brought himself on, only to be reminded that surgery on his new boots had not been completed, as his now badly bruised and bloody big toe left him hobbling; he finished the over off three paces. At the other end Will Falcon (3 for 36) returned to tidy up another couple, the final wicket a skied catch well taken by Dan.  The total of 216 for 8 was some way behind what had seemed likely.  Benny had picked up three behind the stumps to secure the award of an anniversary cap for his keeping, and, for the first time, Straggs faced the ‘free hit’ for no balls and managed to ‘take’ two wickets from free hits.

The Straggs innings began with a gentle nudge off Will Fenwick’s pads, all good. The next four balls saw Benny wave wildly at the ball, the fourth finding an edge to be caught at slip, not the start Toby had in mind.  This brought Jasper to the crease, and, with Will, heads were put down in an unusual display of Straggler application. The opening bowlers seen off, boundaries began to flow, until Jasper (38) was undone, going back to a ball which stayed a fraction low.  Theo joined Will and they upped the pace a little, before Theo called Will (29) for a third which was never there (for those of us old enough to remember, it looked a little like the run out of Boycott by Botham at Lords in 1978, apparently for ‘slow scoring’).  The upside from the run out was the arrival of Tom T at the crease in a very destructive frame of mind.  He launched into the bowlers and momentum moved very firmly in favour of the Straggs.  The tea interval arrived at the end of the 26th over, the score on 157 for 3, Straggs up with the rate.  As is so often the case, a break can disrupt a batsman’s concentration, and Tonbridge brought back their opening bowlers to good effect, Tom undone by a middle stump yorker with the first ball on resumption, although his 61 from 27 balls seemed enough to set the Stragglers up for victory.  However, Straggs have an almost unerring ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and when Theo (24) and Will Falcon, who had begun as Tom had left off, fell in quick succession, it needed a cool head at the crease. George Gray was calm, defending with care, and now joined by Toby to play a captain’s innings, they played out three consecutive maidens to settle the nerves.  Toby launched the occasional rocket to keep ahead of the rate, but George was then so LBW, he almost walked on appeal without waiting for a very slow finger.  It was now left to Toby (33*) and Kieran to run hard, and hit an occasional long ball.  The coup de grace was applied by Kieran (11*) with a flat six over mid-wicket, with two overs to spare, victory by three wickets, and Toby’s redemption secured.  A great start to the season.


Tonbridge School
57 London Rd, Tonbridge TN10 3AG