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Offley & Stopsley, 133-7, Vs Pirton, 113 all out - 18th July

OSCC Won by 20 runs

Offley finally found a way to defeat Pirton to reach the semi finals of the Hertfordshire Village Trophy. After crashing out at the same stage of the past two seasons to the same opponents, Steve Bexfield’s team avoided an unwanted hat trick of defeats as they held their nerve in the gloaming to advance thanks to some impressive fielding and an inspired spell of bowling from Mo Chaudry.

Offley batted first and got off to a flying start as Chaudry and Richie Barker put on 29 in quick time before Umpire Austin sent Barker on his way after an optimistic appeal to a delivery that was angling down the legside. Despite being the victim of such an appalling miscarriage of justice the batsman departed without thought of recrimination.

Chaudry soon followed and when Nathan Brodie was bowled, attempting an ambitious drive and apparently waving his bat at an Easyjet plane passing overhead, Offley were in trouble at 56-3. Rizwan ended his run of ducks at four but was soon on his way for 2 after being bowled by the loathsome Groves (TLG). Mark Tattersall and Bexfield steadied the ship and things looked good until Tattersall drove over a Beard inswinger to depart from 39, a dismissal that at least ended his unfortunate habit of succumbing in the 40s.

Darren Lunney hit a majestic straight six – thereby triggering the first instalment of his bonus from sponsors Gray Nicholls – but was then stumped off the bowling of TLG as he gave an impression of a rhino trapped in quicksand.

The innings fell away in the last three overs as just nine runs were added and Bexfield fell to the penultimate ball of the innings when he crashed a sharp return catch to the bowler and – to give TLG credit – TLG took an excellent catch.

Pirton set out to make 134 from 20 overs but were soon in trouble as Andrew clipped Tattersall to midwicket where Damien Sale took an excellent diving catch. TLG marched out to bat and wasted little time in running out Lawman. However, TLG was soon smashing the ball to all parts, hammering a dreadful barker delivery for six and then dispatching Tattersall into the bar with a blow that could have decapitated any of the small children running around the place.

Things were looking bleak for Offley as TLG stormed to 37 before swinging across the line and being bowled by Chaudry’s second ball of the season. Chaudry helpfully pointed TLG in the direction of the pavilion. Howard was run out and the wheels looked to be coming off when former Shillington patriarch James Moseley carved his first ball to Tattersall at point to give Chaudry a second wicket.

Bidgood tried and died before being bowled by Chaudry for 9 and the game looked up when Cree holed out to Dathan Sale on the long off boundary to give Brodie a rare scalp. Beard became the third batsman to be run out after attempting a ludicrous single to Damien Sale and ending up about 13 yards short as he tried to regain his ground. Norman looked to keep the game alive as he smashed Chaudry towards the midwicket boundary but Brodie took a step to his left, ducked slightly and stepped forward apace before launching into a spectacular dive to claim the catch as a thousand imaginary camera flashes momentarily lit up the darkness descending over Offley. The game appropriately ended with the fourth run out of the innings with both batsmen going hard for the wrong end as Pirton finished 20 runs adrift and leaving TLG and friends to reflect on what might have been but was not.