Result: Won by 122 runs
Match Report: Stragglers of Asia: 284 for 5 (45 overs). J Parker 126 no, J Melhorn 55 no.
Cross Arrows: 162 for 10 (36.3 overs). T Foley 5 for 40, T Vila 3 for 26, D Patel 2 for 22
An eclectic selection of 5 Servicemen, a Doctor, Lawyer, School House Master, Manufacturer and 2 Students assembled on the Lords Nursery Ground in bright sunshine eager and focussed for the Club’s Biannual match against the Cross Arrows. The ‘helm’ was taken by Johnathan Parker who would lead a very strong bowling attack of 4 front line seamers and both left and right handed spinners and there was back up potential too.
Parker won the toss and, with supreme confidence, elected to bat first in this 45 over game. At 43 off the first 8 overs, it looked a good decision but then the dark side of Straggler batting arrived with 3 wickets falling in 6 balls exposing Doctor Melhorn, Schoolie Matt and James ‘WG’ Allsop to good fast bowling accurately exploiting the footmarks at the other end and jagging the ball, at speed, into the stumps accounting for Matt Shales. Extended, tentative defence then began to erode WG’s focus and, able to stand it no longer, attempted to break the shackles only to be caught at deep mid-off. But this only brought JP to the crease who slowly but surely wore the bowling down before launching a devastating salvo of attacking shots all round the wicket as he first cruised, then rushed to his century, then kept going to end on 126 not out. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Doctor began to find his timing and in providing support to his Skipper reached his half century with an excellent 55 not out and the Stragglers to an unprecedented 284 for 5 off the allotted 45 overs.
Tails were up as the Club took to the field and, in spite of a breezy start that saw 60 runs conceded off the first 10 overs, the bowling was tight and the fielding of an altogether high standard – richly rewarded by an outstanding catch at mid-wicket by the Chairman. ‘Captain’ Parker and Steve Booth bowled well but it was then introduction of Tom Vila that prised open the cracks, firstly with that catch at mid-wicket then twice sending stumps cart-wheeling in a sustained spell of accurate fast bowling. At the other end, meanwhile, Tom Foley, left arm orthodox spin, had also been introduced and immediately had the Cross Arrows in confusion as his figures of 8.3 overs, 5 wicket for 40 runs, one of which was caught by Tom Vila, and included two in two balls. Once Vila finished his fine spell of 9 overs, 3 wickets for 26 runs, Dhiraj Patel was brought into the attack and though leaking some boundaries, produced two glorious googlies that were completely unread, went through the gap to hit the wicket – his unorthodox “no run-up” evidently gave the bats no time to think! The Cross Arrows opening bowler, Crosse, mounted a blistering counter attack – 3x 6s and 4x 4s in his 42 – before perishing by a superbly worked stumping by Matt Suckling with the score on 162: a win by 122 runs.
A glorious victory apart, the game, potentially, also saw some Club firsts: a century and a 5 wicket haul at Lords; and a 6th wicket partnership of 222. Who knows? Perhaps, the Club Archivist can tell …… ! What is indisputable is that in 2020, the Cross Arrows will be looking to “avenge” yesterday’s wonderful game. The Team though deserves its well earned opportunity to celebrate.