Chairman's Blog

A great summer of sport is coming to an end, with Icelandic and Welsh footballers coming off cloud 9 (and the former getting back to fishing), the Rio gold rush almost over, and the Pakistani tourists on their way home.  Your correspondent has been so busy playing or watching cricket that the blogs have been thin on the ground of late, but, with the Straggler season also coming to an end, the Master Brewer has requested an update on the season – and confirmation of the contenders to top the batting and bowling averages.

I am going to begin, in this blog however, with fielding and catching. 2015 saw both the introduction of the Terracotta Army, and an unmatched display of catching excellence.  And unmatched it remains, as 2016 has seen reversion to the mean – a few quite outstanding catches, often one handed, interspersed with any number of opportunities waved away. Out-fielding excellence tends to be a function of age, with a recent ‘dive’ in the outfield being compared to the collapse of Didcot power station.  The Terracotta Army can still be relied on to use bulk to block, but would rather leave the running around to younger talent.  The peak of fielding excellence was once more seen at Provender, with nothing conceded and every catch held.

Carl has developed a particular talent for spectacular boundary catches, and produced another to start the collapse, which saw Hugo’s Fixture Secretary’s XI turn round a match heading for a simple result. But in 2016 it is the one handed catches that have stood out – Rory DD at slip against the Turks, palming the ball over his head, and then running half way to the boundary before finally bringing it under control; Hugo’s third, and most spectacular, grab of the driven half volley, while fielding at very short extra at Provender; Will Hilton diving at slip in the same game (did you feel the earth move?); Patch Clews effort at leg slip against the BaBes; Simon Schilder’s impression of an upturned beetle at slip, while hanging on to one of the few catches taken on a bad day at Smarden; Ricky Churchill’s amazing juggling act at Otterden, again a game changing moment; Theo’s dive from very silly mid-off; at Street End; and even the Chairman gets a mention with a one handed return catch at Hollingbourne, albeit with significant assistance from a shock absorbing stomach!

Behind the stumps the Stragglers go from strength to strength.  Either Blair or Al has been behind the stumps for almost every game; and between them they have snaffled 21 victims (Blair 7, and Al 14). Highlights are Blair’s leg side stumping while standing up to Billy at full throttle against SAC, and his diving leg-side catch at Selling; Al’s leg side catch at Otterden and his ‘five for’ at Street End, which also saw him get over his batting ‘yips’.  A total of 26 scalps have been taken by keepers in 2016, better than the previous high point of 25 in 1959 and 2013.  And Al’s total of 14, the most by a keeper since 1974, one of only three Straggler keepers to have done so.