Chairman's Blog

Welcome to the 75th season of Straggler cricket to which I will return in a minute.

Many thanks to Fi for her patience and persistence since offering to host this event way back in 2019, with the 2020 cancellation in full lockdown, and then catching covid herself in 2021; thank you.  And thank you to Ange for stepping in to host the 2021 party at the last moment.

I usually take this opportunity to say farewell and acknowledge those Stragglers who have died since the last party – but I am not aware of any.  However, the whole world of cricket has lost one of the greats of the game – Shane Warne will be very sadly missed.

Now to the 2021 season, the second season of covid, and the continuing tragic loss of cricket teas.  However, we were offered a glimpse of finer things to come with the end of season feast at Kenfield.

2021 was a good Straggler season, not a great one, with 7 victories and only 3 defeats. There were a couple of landmarks of note:

  • Jonathan is the second Straggler to reach 5,000 career runs, which he achieved with a lovely cover drive against IZ, some 12 years after Nigel.
  • George Baker White is 19th Straggler to 2,000 runs, which he reached with his first scoring shot of the season.

Remarkably there were two ties in a season, the first at Hurlingham, played on a gloomy evening in west London.  I had neglected to acquire a pink ball, so the Straggs were sent out to bat in the dark facing a red ball and most could not cope.  In spite of that, Jasper managed a 41 ball ton in 12 overs, and only Toby (63) and Jonathan (34*) scored more than 2. 213 for 8 looked pretty good in the circumstances. Charlie’s plans began to fall apart in the first over, as Toby developed a full-blown attack of the yips (the particularly nasty Faversham variant).  Hurlingham had their own centurion and were cruising to victory, when Jasper intervened with the ball, a perfect length, with Theo completing an electric stumping. Suddenly the Straggs in with a chance, nip and tuck in the last two overs.  The final ball with 2 required; a great ball from Jasper, spliced high into the night sky; Jonathan’s moment of glory there for the taking as he settled beneath, but it was not to be, as the ball fell from his fingers. Fortunately, Jack was on the ball and the batter was run out going for the second – 213 for 8 as well.

2021 saw 7 centuries, but only 4 centurions, with 150th century scored at Kenfield.  It took nearly 50 years to score the first 50 Straggler tons, 17 more to 100, and now with George and Jasper in full flow, only 7 years to 150.  The 2021 centurions were:

  • Ed Solly                   124* vs. Kenfield
  • George Baker White 118 vs. Milstead
  • Jasper Smallwood 104 vs. Hurlingham   106 vs. the FS XI   118* vs. Street End Jasper now has 14 Straggler tons to his name
  • Will Fenwick          131* vs. Milstead   108 vs. Faversham

As for the bowling, much harder in the modern ‘big bat’ environment, there was only one ‘5 for’, indeed a ‘7 for’ by the Beetle (Alex Reece).  In the Inter-Straggs game, when he had turned up as a spectator (Nige had his head in a combine as usual), he dominated with the ball and as a controversial umpire with figures of 7 for 29.

The leading bowler in 2021 was Ben Simpson 10 wickets at 13.90

And on to the Champagne moment, which is often a special catch, but in 2021 for the first time, awarded for an outstanding moment of captaincy. The second tie of the season was at Highland Court.  The Stragglers batted first (to get the HC side out of the bar); Patch’s declaration failed to take account of the additional playing time from the absence of tea. HC batters, keen to get back to the bar, set off at pace, but the Straggs managed to keep chipping away, including James Felton’s first Straggler wickets.  HC found themselves 9 down with 30 to win but also with plenty of time.  The last pair nudged and nurdled at one or two an over to bring the scores level.  With one to win, fielders clustered round the bat. Patch, Theo (bowler) and Jasper consulted in a huddle, from which Jasper somehow secreted himself at cow corner.  Theo tossed the ball very high, all so tempting.  All the batter had to do was chip the ball between a couple of fielders, but he went for glory and picked Jasper out with great precision.

We will take opportunities during this season to celebrate 75 years of Straggler cricket.

  • The BB have very generously offered to host the Straggler team in the fixture at Belmont on Sunday 3rd July.
  • We will encourage Stragglers of all vintages to come along to the Inter-Straggs game, also at Belmont, on Saturday 30th July.
  • In addition, the Committee have decided to recognise significant contributions to Straggler cricket with the award of a new celebratory cap.
  • The award is made for those who have achieved one of five criteria, all of which require considerable dedication to Straggler cricket:
    • Made more than 100 appearances,
    • scored more than 2,000 runs,
    • taken more than 100 wickets,
    • caught more than 40 outfield catches
    • or removed 25 victims behind the stumps.

Over 75 years, 42 Stragglers have achieved at least one of these; none have achieved all 5; but 6 have achieved 4, and I will come to them in a minute.

Those who waited for their Straggler jerseys in 2021 will recall that the grounding of the Evergreen in the Suez Canal interfered with Straggler logistics.  Very sadly, Straggler Chief couturier, Jasper, has been let down with the delivery of the caps, so we are not able to present them in person today.

However, I would like to recognise the achievements of those who are here today and who should have received a cap, and will do so in due course:

Those who have achieved one of the criteria

  • George Baker White:      2,318 runs
  • Al Smallwood:                 68 keeping victims (2nd on the all-time list)
  • James Ryeland:              211 wickets
  • Giles Brealy (represented by his family today, as he is playing golf elsewhere):  2,930 runs

Two of the criteria

  • Matt Smallwood:   100 appearances; 2,351 runs
  • Paul Smallwood:   100 appearances; 298 wickets

Three of the criteria

  • Simon Allport:                 100 appearances; 156 wickets; 42 catches
  • Jasper Smallwood:         100 appearances; 5,315 runs;  48 catches
  • Nigel Snape:                   100 appearances; 5,315 runs;  61 catches
  • Nick Tapp:                       100 appearances; 376 wickets; 66 catches

Four of the criteria

Of the 6 who have achieved four, two are no longer with us – Vere Collins, one of the founders of the Club; and Jim Woodhouse.  The other four are:

  • Rodney Fletcher:      100 appearances; 2,137 runs; 925 wickets; 87 catches
  • Peter Canney:           100 appearances; 3,447 runs; 507 wickets; 69 catches
  • Jonathan Neame:      100 appearances; 5,014 runs; 148 wickets; 40 catches
  • Theo Allport:              100 appearancess; 2,363 runs; 42 catches; 51 keeper scalps

The caps will be presented a tea on the Inter-Straggs game on Saturday 30th July.