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Offley & Stopsley, 239-4 Vs Holwell 136 all out

OSCC Won by 103 runs

There are certain things that can generally be relied upon in life – death, taxes and the fact that Offley will get thumped by Holwell. The names and faces may change but the scorecard invariably makes grim reading at the end of it all. Consequently Sunday was somewhat enjoyable as the form book went out the window.

Martin Bigmore won the toss and elected to bat, ignoring his own fragile bowling attack in favour of setting a target and attempting to bat the visitors out of the game. Bigmore and Dave Bridgland opened the batting and after 10 overs it seemed as if the strategy was misguided as Holwell’s bowlers restricted the openers to a handful of singles. However, the withdrawal of Parkins from the attack opened up one end and Bridgland and Bigmore both began to find the boundary with regularity. Hunte was fair game for both batsmen but Turner plugged up one end until the introduction of Lemuir led to the floodgates opening. The captain opened up to savage effect as he took advantage of some wayward legside bowling, reviving memories of the ill-judged Nomads’ bowler who claimed Bigmore only had one shot as the ball was deposited over the pavilion for the third time in an over. Bridgland also cashed in and both batsmen registered their half-centuries in the same over. The stand was worth 114 when Bridgland drove over a ball from the persevering Turner to bring Mo Chaudry to the crease.

Bigmore fell for 72 and Chaudry was well held at point off Turner to leave Offley on 156-3. However, there was no slackening of momentum as Mark Tattersall and Richie Barker launched into the tiring attack. Tattersall finished unbeaten on 50 from just 28 deliveries while Barker made a comparatively pedestrian 37 from 25 balls. The combination of Tattersall’s axe-man in an abattoir approach and Barker’s more cultured power hitting piled the misery on the bowlers before Barker attempted something clever and played on. Gary Davison finished unbeaten on 12 as Offley posted a formidable 239-4 as Holwell’s fielding collapsed under pressure and from multiple nettle stings as a result of repeated trips into the undergrowth to find the ball. Offley’s batsmen plundered 25 boundaries and five sixes as Holwell’s bowlers wilted in the heat.

Holwell’s hopes rested on a fast start and the visitors got off to a flier as they raced to 29 from five overs before Tattersall induced a false stroke from Rudder and Davison claimed a comfortable catch to spark a dramatic collapse. Qumar roared in and bowled with pace and aggression and proved too much for Pointins and Alleyne to handle. The game was effectively settled when Qumar generated spiteful bounce from the traditionally placid wicket and prompted the dangerous Parkins – already reprieved once by a sprawling Phil Gourd on the boundary edge – to sky a hook. Davison ran round to claim the catch at square leg and Holwell were gone for all money at 47-4, Qumar claiming a season’s best haul of 3-30.

The wickets kept coming as Davison held his third catch of the game to give Bridgland one of his two scalps and Barker accounted for Hopkinson with a ball that might have spun but probably didn’t. Gourd entered the attack and winkled out the prized wicket of Mansfield, clinging on to a searing caught and bowled opportunity that could safely be filed under the catch-it-or-wear-it category. Nathan Brodie held on to his 12th catch of the season to give Gourd his second victim before Davison wrapped up the victory with his first wicket for the club as reigning champions Holwell were skittled for 136.

The victory made it five wins on the spin for Offley as they bowled an opponent out for the fifth time in succession – a feat they only achieved four times in 16 contests in 2005 – a tribute to the smoke and mirrors bowling attack.