|Sun 22nd July 2018||2018|
After the frustration of 3 games cancelled in a month (opposition failing to get sides), and to selection challenges from competing fixtures, the Stragglers returned to the cricket field, and to winning ways (the first victory since Egerton in early May). West Peckham is village cricket at its best, no league fixtures, the only away game a mile down the road, only friendly Sunday afternoon cricket in front of the pub and the Church, and all on a postage stamp of a ground, with some nicely eccentric local rules. On another glorious summer day, the conditions were beyond the Straggler top order who subsided in disarray, 0 for 1 in 4 overs, 7 for 3 in 7 overs, and a miserable 49 for 5 in 16. The middle order were made of sterner stuff, first Hamish MacLeod (50) got matters back in control, but even he was gone with the score still only 77. Up stepped Benny Smallwood (48) and Nick Wright (46*), to put on 75 for the 8th wicket, smacking boundaries at will, and making the whole thing look so easy. Benny was fooled by a slower ball, and fell two short of what would have been an excellent half century. Nick continued to carve until the end, and was only denied his half century, by the Chairman’s inability to manage a single to get off strike in the final over. 196 for 9 was a surprisingly good score after the dismal start.
By complete contrast, West Peckham’s innings caught fire from the off. Nick Wright, having not played for a few weeks, had initial trouble with his radar, his first ball a head high beamer. George Wooldridge nudged it over his head for 6; and then hit four more boundaries in the over – at this rate the chase would be done in no time. At the other end Tom Burge on debut found some lovely shape, and bowled the other opener in his first over. Momentum was still with West Peckham, and it took two more Burge (3 for 39) wickets to keep the Stragglers in the game. Hamish persuaded Carl Reading (a Straggler from 1998 to 2005) to dance down the track; Nick Wright really put his body on the line to take an exceptional catch, diving forward on to the concrete of the outfield; the Chairman snaffled a brace; and the Stragglers were in control at 131 for 8. However, West Peckham had a surprise batting at 8; Freddy Hutchins could see the ball clearly and hit it a long way back over the bowler’s head. He raced to 55, with a couple of overs going for more than 20, amid some careless Straggler fielding. A final twist on the cards? Hamish (3 for 13) persuaded another bat to wander out of his crease; final pair at the wicket; 19 needed with Freddy on strike. Three fours from five balls, Freddy needed to get to the other end to be facing the next over. He made it, but his partner did not, run out some way short. A sigh of relief on behalf of the Stragglers, victorious by 6 runs.