Tour to Oporto

214/All out - 183/All out
Full Time
Won by 31 runs

Match Report

Founded in 1855, Oporto are the Stragglers opponent with the second oldest pedigree, and what a wonderful place to play cricket, with sommeliers relaxing on the terrace, a little haven of peace in the middle of the city.  As if on cue at 11am the early morning sea-fret was burned off by the sun, leaving a little damp on the outfield and some movement in the air for the bowlers. And at last, Jasper (Jasprit), who had been inching his way towards 5,000 Straggler career runs made it over the line.  Cheers erupted around the ground, somewhat bemusing to the Oporto players, when Jasper ran a two to reach the milestone with 12.  One surprised fielder asked if he had got to 50 with nobody paying attention. Straggler batsmen with 5,000 runs are much like London busses of old – you wait for years for one to turn up, and then two come along (almost) together. Jonathan passed his milestone against I Zingari in August 2021, and less than a year later, here was Jasper doing the same. Nigel remains still out in front on 5,315 runs having got there on May 31st 2009, and the fourth may be some years away. By the end of the tour, Jasper stands on 5,060, only eleven runs behind Jonathan. Jasper (60) and George (38) were marching along with such purpose, that the Oporto skipper began to worry that the Straggs would be out of sight before lunch. However, Stragglers have an ability to implode when required, and the trigger was another extraordinary one-handed catch on the deep mid-wicket boundary to remove Jasper. He had perished in identical fashion on Friday and is rethinking that particular shot. Benny (22) almost gave his wicket away without scoring, and then launched a huge six back over the bowler’s head. Ben (20) hit an even longer six and then skied to our erstwhile colleague Junaid B.  Tom T, Angus B (15) Charlie (10) and Jonno moved the score along, but wickets kept falling. With 165 for 5 at lunch the platform was still there for a big score, but now Oporto revealed their secret weapon – lunch. Toby, next man in, could not be dissuaded from settling in for a full tour three course lunch, replete with a bottle of wine and two glasses of port. At the fall of the 7th wicket, he was to be seen marching to the crease, somewhat unsteadily, with his ‘Maverick’ sunglasses under the lid, in an attempt to channel Tom Cruise.  The evidence would suggest that Tom Cruise was the wrong model.  Toby’s innings was, unsurprisingly short, albeit ended by yet another exceptional one-handed catch. When the final pair, Nick W and the Chairman, came together to put a few more on the board, the score has limped somewhat to 200. Fortunately, Nick W connected with a couple before the middle stump was uprooted at the other end, the Stragglers dismissed for 214 in the 48th over.

Oporto had plenty of time on a long hot and sultry afternoon. The Stragglers were still suffering from ‘long-lunch’, a condition much like ‘long-Covid’ but with more acute symptoms for opening bowlers.  In spite of some muttering at the start of his run-up, Toby got an absolute snorter (the matting wicket produced lively bounce) near the batsman’s chin, and the ball flew through for the first of three catches behind the stumps for Benny. Nick Wright, apparently suffering less from ‘long-lunch’ steamed in from the other end, but without success. It needed the change bowlers (bowling in teams) to make the next breakthrough, and Seb was to the fore, taking 3 for 21 at one end, while assisting the Chairman make the most of a rank leg-side long hop by taking yet another miraculous one-handed catch at short fine leg. What is about Oporto and one-handed catches? Oporto had subsided somewhat to 102 for 6, when Alex sneaked out his opposite number, and the game looked done and dusted. The Straggs, however, were tiring in the afternoon sun, and batsman Louis Blackwell had enough talent to master the tail through the remaining overs. The target was getting closer. Surely the Straggs were not going to lose it from here? Blackwell father and son put on 53 for the 7th wicket, but Alex now threw the ball to another bowling team – Jasper and Ben. Unlikely runs kept coming, Louis avoided the fielders, Charlie ran miles in the covers, and Jasper threw himself on the wicket in frustration. Jasper passed the bat at will, and the wicket time and again, but failed to find an edge or the stumps. Eventually, Ben induced the key error, when Louis mistimed a lofted drive into the safe hands of Nick ‘buckets’ Wright. The tail was exposed, but even now frustration was the order of the day, as Kumar edged and nurdled towards the target.  Finally, Jasper managed to find an edge, which hit a pad and ballooned to Charlie in the cordon. Oporto were all out for 183, victory by 31 runs. It was a very hot, weary and possible still hung-over group of Stragglers who headed for the bar and the pool. Men of the match were Jasper for his 60, for passing 5,000 career runs and for his amateur dramatics while bowling; and Louis for an excellent half century and a long spell of bowling which had picked apart the Straggler top order.


Oporto Cricket & Lawn Tennis Club
Rua do Campo Alegre 532, 4150-170 Porto, Portugal