Henry Blofeld has called the ground surrounded by limestone walls at Menorca “one of the prettiest small grounds in the world”. It is very hard to disagree with him; a more lovely spot for any purpose is hard to find, for cricket truly wonderful. With tortoises beyond the boundary and hoopoes flitting through the trees, the rural idyll is really only disturbed by raucous Straggler and other cricketer banter. And the MCC are generous and welcoming hosts who play the game in the best possible spirit, aided in keeping the most elegant of scorebooks by Jenny.
Long, late nights of excess take their toll on even the hardiest Straggler tourist, and the quality of cricket can drift a little by Sunday. Early in the tour, however, even with an early start and a liquid breakfast at the Gatwick Red Lion, and a long lunch at newly opened Bambu, we might have expected an Inter-Straggler T25 warm-up game to go the distance in at least one innings (even with 9-a-side). The positive that could be taken was that the catching was almost flawless (a couple of very hard caught and bowled put down), which made most of the bowlers pretty chirpy with some good figures to open the season – 16 wickets taken for 270 runs.
Overnight rain had left some damp areas around the matting wicket, which restricted bowlers coming off a full run, and perhaps that was what did for so many batsmen who put the ball in the air. Toby was the principal catcher hanging on the three, supported by Nick Wright and Hugo taking skiers at long-on. Only Hugo (38) and Paddy (35) got past 30, and leading bowlers were Paddy (4 for 25), the Chairman (3 for 21) and Nick Wright (3 for 38). Hugos’ Fixture Secretary’s XI posted 138, which seemed a little light (5 overs were unused, and some wickets had been gifted); six batters had got starts and failed to go on. In reply, Patch’s Straggler XI were cruising at 130 for 6 with nearly 8 overs left and Paddy still available to come back in, when Charlie got in Patch’s ear (“a couple of sixes would do it”). Patch carefully blocked the next two balls but Charlie got his man, as Patch skied the next to Hugo at long on, letting out a high pitched wail (and thereby winning the Shirley Bassey award) as soon as he miscued. Paddy could not then cope with the Chairman’s absence of pace, played too early at a straight one. 132 all out, and victory for Hugo by 6 runs. Close run Inter-Straggler games continue.
|Menorca Cricket Club|