Stragglers of advancing years may recall an Indian slow bowler from the 1960s – one RG “Bayu” Nadkarni. His obituary published earlier in the year included an unusual record, and one which has strange similarities with that well-known Straggler coach and spiritual advisor, Patch Clews. Nadkarni holds the record for the number of consecutive maiden overs bowled in a Test Match. In a particularly grim and attritional day’s cricket in 1964 in Chennai, England were under the cosh at 63 for 2 and with four players laid up with fever, Brian Bolus and Ken Barrington had to play for time. At one end Nadkarni managed to bowl 131 balls which were blocked or padded away. At the other end, England’s batters managed to scramble a few unlikely singles to keep the score board from seizing up completely. The final ball of what would have been the 22nd consecutive maiden was struck with marginally more fervour, and a mis-field at mid-on allowed the batsmen to secure an unexpected run. The sequence had ended, and Nadkarni’s captain immediately took him off, a comment in the Times was that he had become “all-together too expensive”. The match ended in a draw as did 9 of 10 matches on that tour, including all four Test matches, one of the most boring series ever played, but still watched by more than a million spectators.
A few years ago, the Stragglers were on top against the SAC at Belmont. Assorted Smallwoods had crashed the ball around the park, and the SAC rear-guard were blocking long for the draw. Jasper, always optimistic, introduced Patch as the man to break the deadlock. In this he failed, but he was very nearly as mean as Nadkarni. 29 balls bowled and not a run scored; the final ball of Patch’s sixth over, however, did catch and edge, which eluded the less than alert slip cordon and trickled over the downhill boundary for 4. “Far too expensive, we can’t have that”, was the Skipper’s conclusion, and Patch was retired from the attack.