Result: MCC won by 14 runs
Team batting first: MCC
|2||Gnodde T||Ct Suckling||Vila||0|
|3||Gumbs S +||Ct Asher||Gravett||119|
|5||Hofbauer G||Not Out||6|
|7||Russell A||Did Not Bat||0|
|8||Noble W||Did Not Bat||0|
|9||Grace G||Did Not Bat||0|
|10||Wigley D *||Did Not Bat||0|
|11||Ireland J||Did Not Bat||0|
|For 5 wickets||(45 overs)||251|
Team batting second: Stragglers of Asia
|1||Asher A||Ct Wigley||Russell||1|
|2||McDuell Ph||Ct & Bowled||Noble||2|
|3||Suckling M +||Ct Russell||Grace||36|
|4||Cavanagh J *||Bowled||Ireland||49|
|6||Vila T||Ct Joshi||Kaufman||35|
|7||Chapman H (c)||Ct Joshi||Ireland||5|
|8||Gravett B (g)||Ct Noble||Kaufman||51|
|10||Pollock-Hill R||Ct Kaufman||Russell||3|
|11||Whyte T||Not Out||9|
|For 10 wickets||(57.1 overs)||237|
In beautiful weather the teams assembled at a glorious Ascott Park for the biennial Stragglers versus MCC fixture.
MCC won the toss and elected to bat. To Stragglers’ delight Vila had Gnodde caught behind second ball, but for some time thereafter MCC batsmen Kaufman and Gumbs batted aggressively and profitably. Stragglers rotated the bowling given the hot weather and in attempt to stifle the flow of runs; it was with some relief that Pollock-Hill captured the wicket of Kaufman just after the hour mark, Kaufman’s 67 coming off 54 balls and including 11 fours and a six. The later MCC batsmen were less confident than the top three, but by now Gumbs – a Buckinghamshire minor counties player of some pedigree – was well into his stride, peppering the Ascott Park sheep with 7 sixes in addition to his 10 fours. Gravett eventually had Gumbs superbly caught in the deep by Asher, for 119 off 103 balls. Upon Whyte picking up a deserved wicket the MCC skipper declared, conspicuously early, and setting up a very open game.
Alas Stragglers’ reply got off to a stuttering start, with the MCC opening bowlers achieving some notable swing with the new ball, and on occasion some difficult bounce; Asher got a particularly awkward one and fended it to slip. McDuell also went cheaply, before a more successful stand between Suckling and Cavanagh saw off the MCC opening bowlers, to be replaced with spinners able to extract good turn from the very dry Ascott Park track. Suckling top-edged one into the leg side, then after playing a couple of sweet shots Savage got a ripper that turned back from the rough and clipped his off stump. With Stragglers batting deep – noting the injured Salter at No.9 – and thanks to the MCC skipper’s generous declaration, the game was still very much ‘on’ for the Stragglers. Vila batted brightly, putting on 63 with Cavanagh before holing out in the deep; Cavanagh played on soon after. But then Gravett and Salter were together for the Stragglers’ 8th wicket: Gravett in particular batting aggressively and ruthlessly, smashing 3 fours and 4 sixes in his 42-ball 51. While Gravett was at the wicket, and then as Salter batted with the tail, the MCC were forced onto the defensive. In the end Stragglers just but only just ran out of wickets, and with 11 balls remaining in the last 20 overs, fell 14 runs short of a victory that had seemed many, many miles away in the morning session.
A most enjoyable and exciting game – memorable for some aggressive batting by Gumbs and Gravett among others, and some canny bowling under pressure by bowlers on both sides – and also memorable for the generosity and judgement in MCC skipper David Wigley’s declaration.