The start of the 2010 season was touched with tragedy, with the untimely death of Toby Cox in an avalanche while ski touring on the Monte Rosa glacier on Sunday April 18th.
Toby awarded himself the soubriquet ‘The Legend’ following his remarkable feats with the bat in the 2000 season, finishing with 580 runs (the highest total in a Straggler season) at an average of 116 (the only batsman to average over 100 in a season). His batting continued to be legendary (leading run scorer again in 2001), and his arrival at the crease was always greeted with eager anticipation. I happened to be scoring, when Toby reached his first Straggler century against Old Wives Lees in 1994. As a ‘counter’ he knew his score, so ran the first run of the requisite 2 with his bat raised to acknowledge the crowd some considerable time before I had alerted the crowd to the need to applaud. Toby scored 5 centuries in his Straggler career, and although his appearances for the Club diminished in frequency during his Paris sojourn, he became, in 2009, the seventh Straggler to reach 3,000 career runs, and was mentioned in despatches for his 7 sixes in four overs against Bishopsbourne.
Toby was an enthusiast and a contributor in everything he did, and we have missed him this season. He would have been proud to see the records fall, fantastic catches held, long sixes struck and unlikely bowlers gleaning wickets, and all in the best spirit of the game, which he personified.
2010 generated enough statistics to send the most enthusiastic ‘stato’ delirious. Three early games were lost to the weather or unenthusiastic opposition, but from mid-June the Club enjoyed an exceptional run. The weather remained fair, many fixtures were over-subscribed, most sides victorious, and we even managed an inter-Straggler fixture at Belmont, when much of the county disappeared in a monsoon. The next generation of Stragglers came strongly to the fore, with centuries from Theo Allport and Jasper Smallwood, and hat-tricks from Theo and Toby Russell Vick, and many other performances of note. Fifteen players made their Straggler debuts, many playing in a number of fixtures. Rarely have Match Managers been so well served with ability, enthusiasm, and such regular availability, as can be seen in the averages with more batsmen and bowlers completing the requisite innings or overs than of late.
The batting, occasionally porous in recent years, produced 5 centurions – Theo and Jasper, James Grant, Patrick Mitchell and Jonathan Neame. There were a number of serious contenders for the batting award, which went to the wire, and was won spectacularly by Jonathan with his unbeaten century at Hollingbourne. The bowling on the whole lacked ferocious pace, but kept the opposition guessing, and for the first time in 5 seasons, there were more than 2 contenders for the award. Honourable mentions go to Barney Taylor, Jonathan Riches and many others who returned excellent figures, and of course, Jonathan Neame again, with the best season’s bowling figures for more than 30 years. Fielding and catching, never points of Straggler excellence, were much improved, with memorable catches at Bishopsbourne (James Grant), Belmont (Jake Ward) and Elham (James Prest). With a century and hat-trick before the end of May, Theo also established himself as a very accomplished keeper, standing up to most, and always in control.
Straggler Milestones and Other Stats
Nigel Snape became the first Straggler to pass 5,000 runs in his innings at Bishopsbourne
Matthew Schilder became the 14th batsmen to pass 2,000 career runs with his half century at Belmont against the Standard Athletic Club
Nick Tapp became only the 5th Straggler bowler to have conceded 4,000 runs, for which achievement he is not awarded a bottle!
This is only the second time that there have been 5 centurions in a season.
This is the first time since 1956 that 2 Stragglers have taken a hat-trick in a season
61 outfield catches is the best for 20 years, and the 4th highest ever
9 victories is the most since 1990
19 successes for the keepers is also the most since 1990
144 wickets is the most since 1996
As ever there are a number of contenders for the Champagne moment (or moments) of 2010, notable among them were Jonathan Riches return catch during his spell of 7 for 25 at Bishopsbourne; Olla Tennant and Tom Wood bringing a whole new dimension to running between the wickets at Broadstairs; the rock like defence of Matt Smallwood and Mark Baker White to deny Sandwich; and the umpire’s decision that prevented a Neame hat-trick at Hollingbourne. However, the award for the 2010 Champagne Moment goes to Tom Wood for the stratospheric catch off his own bowling to complete victory at Belmont, while fending off a number of other aspiring fielders.