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Offley & Stopsley CC Vs Ickleford - 8th June

OSCC Won by 85 runs

Offley consolidated their position in the North Herts League by gaining revenge for their early season reverse at Ickleford. Dave Bridgland, Mark Tattersall, Nathan Brodie and Steve Bexfield scored useful runs to help Offley to a challenging 242-8 after winning the toss before Tattersall and Jon Cerasale killed off Ickleford’s hopes.

Offley got off to a rocky start. The day began with only 10 players on hand as round the world traveller Colin Keeley embarked on a tour of Hertfordshire encompassing Gravely, Therfield and Offley before finally arriving at Ickleford. In Keeley’s defence he would have had to have arrived in excellent time to see the first wicket go down. Richie Barker’s dismissal to the first ball of the match – a man in crap form playing a crap shot to a crap ball – was not exactly the start Bexfield was looking for after sending in a pinch hitter.

However, Brodie and Mo Chaudry began to find the gaps and take their toll of the bad ball and shared a 50-run stand before Chaudry crashed one to cover and exploded down the pitch like a greyhound coming out of the traps. Brodie evidently wanted no part of Chaudry’s suicide mission and rightly sent him back. A despairing dive was almost enough to regain his ground but Umpire Cerasale sent the batsman on his way. Offley were rocking slightly at 76-3 when Brodie carved a long hop to the cover boundary but Tattersall and Bridgland came together to revive Offley’s fortunes.

Tattersall, a large man with a large bat, was effortlessly into his stride as he pinged the ball around the field with the air of a man who could thrive at any sporting endeavour that does not require great stamina and allows ample opportunity for cigarette breaks. He accumulated 10 boundaries in his 49 before dumping a long hop into the hands of square leg. Bridgland and Cerasale joined forces and added 43 in good time before Cerasale miscued another shortish delivery into the hands of backward point.

Rizwan marched out to bat with the air of a condemned man. The Don (as in Duck not Bradman) had failed to score a run in his previous three innings. Two balls later he was shuffling back to the pavilion after shuffling back to a straight ball to make it four 0s on the trot and a new nickname of Audi four rings.

Bexfield joined Bridgland and the pair got the board ticking again. Bridgland brought up his 50 from 61 balls but was promptly run out backing up after Bexfield’s drive was deflected on to the stumps. Darren Lunney added impetus to the closing overs as he made Bexfield run hard for everything. The Offley skipper seemed to be feeling his age as a lack of lung power and fitness forced him to turn down a couple of twos: of course it may just have been his failing eyesight. However, Bexfield finished unbeaten on 36 from 34 balls as Offley closed on 242 to leave Ickleford needing to bat well to record the double.

Derment made a century when the teams last met but with Tattersall and Keeley displaying an admirable line and length he struggled to find his touch in the early stages and was finally put out of his misery when Tattersall ripped a straight ball through an expansive waft. Jenner and Giggle came together to forge the only partnership of note and Ickleford’s chances looked bright while the pair were together. However, Jenner skied a drive off Tattersall and Chaudry had plenty of time to consider the meaning of life and the effects of global warming as he waited for the swirling chance to come down before he held an excellent catch at midwicket.

Keeley earned reward for his odyssey of rural Hertfordshire as he picked up his second wicket of the season by castling Wellstead for no score and the game was as good as up when Rizwan struck with his second ball, finding Giggle’s edge and allowing Austin to hold the chance.

Rayat and Cheeseman pottered around to no great effect before Bexfield swept aside doubts over his speed and eyesight by swooping on the ball at square leg and running Cheeseman out with a devastating throw. Cerasale steamed into the breach, proving too quick for Rayat and Shinner before claiming his third wicket when Sherrod skied a wild swipe and Barker held the chance at square leg. Barker removed Day hoicking across the line before the last pair of Izzard and Walker added 32 for the final wicket before Bridgland lured Day down the track and Austin removed the bails to leave the batsman a good four yards shy of safety.

The result left Offley in fine fettle ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Crawley Green and a showdown with old rivals Nomads. The not inconsiderable matter of a two-game losing streak against Nomads should provide Bexfield’s men with all the incentive they need, not to mention an excellent reason to avoid the not inconsiderable pre-match drinking that scuppered last year’s trip to Crawley Green.