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Offley Stopsley Vs Therfield - 20th May
OSCC Won by 17 runs
A ruthless display of fast bowling from Rizwan inspired Offley to a dramatic comeback win against Therfield. Bowling with a pace and venom rarely seen on a wicket that was producing all the bounce of a sand pit, Rizwan ripped through the lower middle order to claim a career-best 5-18 and seal a dramatic 17-run victory.
Qumar also produced a fine all-round performance and was unlucky to lose out to Rizwan in the Man of the Match voting after scoring an unbeaten 17 and claiming 3-26.
Steve Bexfield won the toss and elected to bat first in his first game back in charge. Richie Barker returned to the ranks in order to concentrate on his batting and the move clearly worked (to a risible extent) as he notched his second highest score of the season before aiming over midwicket and holing out at cover for 13. Rizwan went for a duck and Mo Chaudry departed after crashing a typically fierce drive into the hands of mid off.
That brought Bexfield and Nathan Brodie together and the pair steadied the ship and slowly accumulated the singles in difficult scoring conditions. Offley suffered a blow when the ageing Bexfield was forced to retire hurt after suffering injuries in both his calves, possibly a sign of the onset of muscular dystrophy. Mark Tattersall came in and crashed his first ball for six before attempting a misguided defensive prod and being bowled without adding to his score.
Brodie departed for 18 and Darren Lunney was expertly stumped down the legside. Martin McCulley made his first appearance of the season but was stumped with his head tilted upwards and his bat pointing at the clouds without opening his account. Bexfield gallantly dragged his body back to the middle to join Gary Davison.
Davison was making his first appearance of the season and appeared to be one of the few batsmen capable of finding his touch on a tricky surface. He hit the ball hard and played a number of elegant shots to apparently confirm his standing as a talented player before proving an abject lack of ability in handling a shooter and was castled in convincing fashion to leave Offley rocking at 118-8. Qumar joined Bexfield and sought to prove a point about his customary lowly status in the order. He hit the ball with authority and also accumulated the singles effectively as he shared an unbeaten stand of 30 with Bexfield to drag Offley to a just about defendable total.
That theory looked as if it might have to be reviewed as the visitors King tucked into Tattersall's opening over. Tattersall and McCulley - undoubtedly the heaviest bowling partnership in club history (a record that probably lasted until Qumar and Barker were simultaneously introduced) - both came in for some early stick as King looked to smear everything to the ropes.
King proved to be a japester of the highest order, making witty observations about himself and his stroke play and the only real surprise was that such a natural comedian had not come in at number three after Peter Kay had had time to warm up the crowd for the main act. In all fairness to King - a veritable emperor of humour - he played with far greater freedom than any other batsman on display and cracked a rapid 36. The closest he came to dismissal was when Lunney made great strides to his right and nearly pulled off a magnificent diving catch before the impact of the ground dislodged the ball. However, King's reign came to an end when he smashed McCulley to Chaudry who took an excellent catch running round at deep midwicket.
That dismissal revived Offley hopes but they were still firmly on course for defeat before Qumar struck in fine fashion in the 20th over. First he removed Hardman with a ball that might have kept a little low. Drinks were taken and Qumar, suitably refreshed and recharged, hurtled in to unleash a bouncer that Viner could only help round the corner to square leg where Bexfield held on.
Qumar retired to the outfield after that as Rizwan entered the attack. Barker picked up the fourth wicket but the visitors were still favourites with Walker-Smith going well and the momentum seemed to have swung irrevocably to Therfield when Chaudry dropped a sharp chance off Bradfield. Lunney spilled a catchable chance from Walker-Smith on the boundary, palming it for six in the process, but Rizwan gave Offley real hope by castling Bradfield for a dogged 34. Lunney gave Walker-Smith another reprieve when he dropped a howitzer, stopping a certain six but bruising a finger and surprisingly not shattering his chin in the process. However, Rizwan ensured it was not costly as he ripped through Walker-Smith's defenses via the inside edge and then took a fine running catch at point to give Qumar his third wicket.
However, Therfield continued to inch closer to their target with a succession of miscues and powerful blows. Offley scented the genuine prospect of victory when Chaudry held a stinging blow in the dark to send King back to the shed. Two balls later Rizwan struck his fourth blow as he induced Price to drive uppishly to cover where Brodie took a fine catch. Last man Whitby limped to the wicket and looked a fragile old gentleman in the gloaming. Rizwan did his best for diplomacy by slinging down successive beamers and then was smeared through mid off for a couple. However, the bowler regained his composure and sent the next delivery spearing past the batsman's tentative prod to end the game in dramatic fashion and give Offley the win their fielding and bowling performance deserved.