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Offley & Stopsley CC Vs Ickleford - 29th April
OSCC Lost by 7 wickets
Offley crashed to defeat at Ickleford courtesy of a wanton fielding display as catches were spilled with disregard and balls were allowed to roll through legs apparently spread wider than a Parisian whores.
The abysmal efforts in the field wasted a strong effort by the batsmen and failed to back up a decent showing by the bowlers as fielders effectively squandered half a dozen chances and donated the best part of 50 runs to the Ickleford cause with a casual incompetence.
Offley lost the toss and were soon struggling at 21-2. Richie Barkers attempt to lead from the front and mow everything through midwicket had little effect (and offended the purist in Mark Tattersall) before pulling a tame catch on the legside. Jon Cerasale marched out and again looked in good touch before succumbing to his second duck of the season, failing to clear mid on with a mistimed drive. It was indeed a poor dismissal although it remains questionable whether the bowler actually had to inform the departing batsman that it was a Sh*t shot.
Steve Bexfield joined Steve Hoar and the pair repaired the damage with a stand of 55. Hoar looked to be in fine touch and had another century in his sights when he guided a long hop into the hands of backward point. Mo Chaudry came and went in the blink of an eye and Nathan Brodie sparkled briefly before falling for 16 to leave Offley rocking at 105-5.
Tattersall ambled out to join Bexfield and was soon hammering the ball to all parts, developing a real taste for Maylins flighted offerings and tucking in like a starving man falling upon a family sized bag of pork scratchings. With Tattersall thumping boundaries with his customary disdain, Bexfield ground his way towards his first half century since the Stone Age (2005 actually). He finally celebrated the landmark with some joyous celebrations before ruining the effort with a tame dismissal for 54.
However, Bexfields departure resulted in a surge in the run rate as Dave Bridgland joined Tattersall and matched him blow for blow with some lusty hitting. Tattersall finally succumbed for 50-ball 67 but at the end it was Bridgland who was doing the damage as he sprinted to an unbeaten 31 from 18 balls to haul Offley up to an imposing 239.
Icklefords batsmen were forced to play their shots from the start. Derment looked set to go for 2 after slicing a drive off Qumar into the waiting hands of Hoar at backward point. However, as the ball descended gently out of the sky, dropping to earth like a beach ball floating on a still day, Hoar apparently suffering with his contact lens, managed to avoid any form of contact with the ball and the chance went begging. As the scorecard suggests it was a pivotal moment in proceedings.
However, there were still ample opportunities for Offley to salvage the situation. Qumars mood was hardly improved as Cerasale spilled a chance in the gulley before keeper Darren Lunney dropped a regulation edge. Encouraged by the ineptitude in the field Derment and Jenner began to take charge of proceedings and enjoyed a stand of 121 before Barker beat Jenner in the flight and Lunney did enough to stump the batsmen at the second attempt.
But the runs continued to flow and despite a miserly spell from Cerasale the runs flowed at the other end as Qumar, Barker and Tattersall all struggled to contain the batsmen. Tattersalls figures came in for some shocking treatment as a result of a series of miscues and breathtaking ineptitude on the boundary although the last chance may have gone when Brodie failed to haul in what would have been a stunning catch to account for Derment.
Ultimately Ickleford kept their nerve to win with seven wickets and a couple of overs to spare, Derment recording an unbeaten 117 for his maiden century, a piece of information that did plenty for the captains sense of humour and general outlook on life.
All in all it represented a very disappointing day as a fine batting performance was wasted by a substandard all-round display in the field from a team that suggested a crash course in catching and a refresher in performing the long barrier might not go amiss.