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Offley & Stopsley CC 146-6 Vs Great Gaddesden 119 all out - 29th July
OSCC Won by 27 runs
Offley returned to winning ways in the North Herts League as they came out on top in a low scoring encounter on a green, slow wicket at Bridens Camp. Paul Bridgland shone with the ball as he made his first appearance of the season while Mo Chaudry returned from his broken nose to shatter the Gaddesden tail and seal victory for Steve Bexfields troops.
Bexfield lost the toss and Offley were asked to bat first. Following a quick survey of batsmen Bexfield was unable to find anyone willing to volunteer to open up and duly led the way himself with Dave Bridgland. Both batsmen struggled to impose themselves in the early stages as the bowlers made the most of some very helpful conditions and the breakthrough came when Bridgland gallantly responded to Bexfields rather hopeful call for a single to point and was run out by about three yards.
Nathan Brodie was granted an early reprieve when he was dropped at the wicket but his poor run of form continued when he was bowled for 2. Richie Barker shuffled out to the crease with the air of a man who would have cheerfully welcomed a flash flood but was able to dig in alongside Bexfield. The pair posted the 50 for Offley but shortly after the drinks break Bexfields 58-ball vigil ended when he skied a sweep off Gill and was well caught in the deep after scoring 20.
Mark Tattersall briefly flourished before he was caught on the midwicket boundary to leave Offley on 82-4. Barker and Chaudry added 29 in good time with a combination of suicidal running and a couple of lusty swings before Chaudry was bowled for 12. Despite fighting the effects of an excess of Fosters and a chronic lack of fitness, Barker reached his second half century of the season before he chopped on in the final over of the innings. Rizwan weighed in with a couple of late blows to drag the score up to 146-6, a score that looked to be competitive but not much more.
The hosts looked to be in firm control in the early stages of their reply. Tattersall swung the ball to decent effect but was unable to find the edge and Colin Keeley looked to be feeling the after-effects of Saturdays 14-over stint. Despite the pain of his injured ankle Keeley gallantly got through his eight overs for just 27 runs.
However, the game swung with the introduction of Rizwan into the attack as Tattersall gave way at the pavilion end. The bowler charged in with real pace and venom and soon made the breakthrough when he found the edge of Pitkins bat and Chris Austin dived to his right to take an excellent catch behind the stumps. Ambrose and Cheeseman took the score on to 46 before Rizwan sent Ambrose on his way with a beautiful delivery which bounced and nipped back, bowling the batsman off the inside edge.
Bridgland took over from Keeley and soon found his length, generating prodigious swing and movement and causing problems for both batsmen. Cheeseman struggled to contend with Bridglands movement but Crawley simply did not have a clue as he adopted a curious ploy of running down the wicket and changing his shot at the last moment, desperately blocking the ball or waving at thin air like a blind man with a stick of celery. He was finally dismissed after scoring a single off 24 balls to leave Gaddesden on 53-3 with the run rate soaring.
A mildly iffy piece of fielding from Keeley at point allowed the batsmen to pick up a couple of runs and relieve the pressure slightly, much to the consternation of the captain who did his best mad LeJaune of the Legion impression and ran about the field with the air of a rabid bulldog chewing a wasp.
Hughes smashed a couple of boundaries before top-edging the ball straight up in the air, sending it into orbit like a Harrier jump jet. The ball looped up into the ozone layer and should have provided the simplest of chances for the keeper. However, Austin lost sight of the ball in his helmet and came within inches of being clunked on the head as he flapped around like an alarmed chicken with its leg caught in a trap before he adjusted at the last moment and took a diving catch which in its own way may have been enough to prevent Bexfield suffering apoplexy. Fendick made 9 before slapping Bridgland to Barker in the covers and Bridgland claimed his fourth wicket when Hearn was caught behind for a duck as Austin took his third catch of the game.
Upton and Cheeseman gave Gaddesden hope as they dragged the score up to 112 but Tattersall returned to the attack to bowl Upton and the game was effectively over when Chaudry speared one through Cheesemans defences to leave Gaddesden on the ropes at 112-8. Jones did well to last three balls before he went the same way and Chaudry wrapped up the game by castling Gill.
The victory keeps Offleys hopes of the title mathematically alive in other words theyre long gone but overall it was a fine all round display in the field as the bowlers defended a small total with excellent support from the fielders.