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Offley & Stopsley CC 172 - 6 Vs Hatfield 173-4 - 10th June

OSCC Lost by 6 Wkts

Offley locked horns with league leaders Hatfield and came off second best as they slipped to a six-wicket defeat on a day when little went right for Steve Bexfield’s team.

Bexfield lost the toss and Hatfield elected to field first. Dave Bridgland and Richie Barker opened the innings and shared an opening stand of 53. Barker looked in rare touch for once this year which considering Saturday night’s epic session in the wake of the West Herts victory suggested that his problems may have involved a lack of alcohol before games. He reached his highest score of the year (26, sensation!) before dragging a ball from Hitchiner on to his stumps.

Mo Chaudry joined Bridgland and the pair took the score past 100 before Chaudry fell for 15 on a day where he struggled to impose his will on the bowlers and was restricted to a single boundary before being bowled by Wynne. The innings began to wither and die when Bridgland played a tired shot to finally hole out at cover for an excellent 62 and after Rizwan fell for his third duck in a row, Offley’s hopes rested firmly on the shoulders of Bexfield and Gary Davison.

However, Davison fell for 26 when he mistimed a legside flick and contrived to send a towering leading out to the long on boundary where Golder took the catch to end Davison’s innings and prevent him from finally registering his long-awaited maiden six.

Bexfield and Nathan Brodie briefly steadied the ship before the wheels fell off amid a clatter of wickets to wreck any real hope of posting a challenging score. Bexfield went LBW as he failed to connect with an ugly legside smear and Darren Lunney came and went in the blink of an eye as he was bowled behind his legs without troubling the scorers. Brodie miscued to cover before Qumar maintained his recent good run of form with the bat and hit some late lusty blows to drag the total up to 170-8, a score that looked to be at least 25 runs short of a competitive total.

Offley’s hopes rested on taking early wickets but Australian Hitchiner soon put paid to that plan as he carved Rizwan away for four boundaries in a single over as Hatfield stormed out of the blocks and got off to a flier despite a steady effort from Qumar. With Whitehead adding untroubled support at the other end Offley were in real danger of a severe mauling before Barker claimed two quick wickets, bowling Hitchiner with the aid of a rotten shot and having Gohill smartly stumped by Chris Austin who was evidently feeling a little perkier than he had on the previous evening when he was divesting his stomach of an excess of Fosters.

However, there was little comfort for Offley’s bowlers as Gale marched out to the middle and joined Whitehead with an eye to finishing proceedings off as quickly as possible.

The pair began to carve the Offley field apart with their running and footwork and rarely looked in danger before Gale miscued Davison to mid on but Matthew Freeman was unable to hold on to a chance after making good ground to his right. Freeman did his best to sway out of a sharp opportunity shortly later but he atoned for his drop – and capped an excellent individual display in the field – by holding on to a swirling shot off Gale. Freeman warned Chaudry off as the pair threatened to collide before expertly judging the catch. Chaudry followed up by dropping two chances in almost as many overs although he made up for the second miss by smartly recovering the ball to run out Shah as the batsman dallied in midwicket.

The game ended in a whimper as Freeman lost his accuracy at about the same time as he discovered his speed and the game ended with a wide as another wayward, albeit rapid, delivery headed down the legside.

All in all not a particularly good day at the office for Offley as they suffered their second defeat of the season. In truth Bexfield’s team were second best in every department and although there were a few positive individual performances and the team stuck to their task in the field, it was not one to remember.