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Offley & Stopsley CC 201-6 Vs Ickleford II's 67 all out - 14th July

OSCC Won by 134 runs

Offley slashed Ickleford’s lead at the top of the Saracens League to just five points after demolishing the leaders at Wardown Park. Mark Tattersall turned in a superb all-round performance to claim career-best figures of 7-21 and also maintained his fine run with the bat as he hammered a typically rapid 44. Steve Bexfield set up an imposing target with an unbeaten 80 and Ickleford were blown away at the top of the order amid a series of swinging deliveries and dropped catches.

Bexfield lost the toss and Offley found themselves asked to bat on a track which didn’t exactly inspire confidence and appeared to have a root embedded on a length at the Stockingstone Road end.

Nathan Brodie and Steve Hoar opened the toss despite Hoar complaining of discomfort in his wrist. Hoar appeared to aggravate an injury in his wrist in the early exchanges and proceeded to flap about like a one-armed man trying to operate a particularly heavy butterfly net. It came as a merciful release when Lockyer put him out of his misery as he spooned an easy catch to gully for 2.

Mo Chaudry joined Brodie and attentions now turned to the eagerly anticipated showdown between Brodie and Martin McCulley. Brodie had allegedly promised to dispatch McCulley to all parts of the ground – to say nothing of New Bedford Road, Stockingstone Road and the miniature putting green – but it was the veteran seamer who had the last word. Chugging into the crease like Tugboat Annie ploughing through choppy seas, McCulley defeated Brodie’s defensive push with a swinging delivery to leave Offley on 36-2.

Tattersall strode to the wicket and quickly got into his stride, passing Chaudry in the scoring stakes and caressing the ball to all parts like a jovial behemoth. After Chaudry feathered a catch behind, Bexfield joined Tattersall and took the score to 108 before Tattersall succumbed. Despite looking in no trouble and apparently on course for at least a half century, Tattersall inexplicably holed out to mid on as his natural parsimony and reluctance to buy a jug took over.

Richie Barker came and went after offering up his latest impersonation of a retard encountering a cricket bat for the first time. Having succumbed first ball to a wide long hop in his previous innings against Ickleford, Barker mustered a princely 2 before spooning a legside full toss to short fine leg off the back of the bat to leave Offley rocking on 115-5.

Bexfield held firm and began to accelerate the score in association with Darren Lunney. Lunney made 17 before falling to a somewhat agricultural smear – a shot that would give Ickleford their solitary point of the day – but Bexfield drove Offley on towards 200. Batting with the air of a man who has put last season’s annus horiblis firmly behind him, Bexfield dispatched the bowling to the boundary with ease, plundering five consecutive boundaries off Lockyer. Despite a second spell from McCulley – the wily trundler finished with impressive figures of 17-4-36-1 – Offley finished on 201-6 to leave Ickleford chasing an imposing target in their bid to effectively seal the league title with eight weeks remaining.

Hoar’s aggravated wrist injury meant he was unable to field and Chris Latino took the field as twelfth man. Latino was quickly into the action, falling forward at point to juggle a chance from Schumann. Flapping around like a seal in the midst of a seizure, Latino pawed at the ball but failed to hold on. However, Tattersall quickly rendered the drop irrelevant by spearing a swinging delivery through the batsman’s defences to leave Ickleford on 0-1.

Tattersall should have had a second wicket but Lunney made a complete pig’s arse of a regulation chance at mid off to reprieve Robinson. After a wayward opening over from Matthew Freeman, Barker came on at the Stockingstone Road end and soon induced Robinson to edge the ball to the keeper where Chris Austin took an excellent low catch. Ickleford were in disarray when Pursey decided that after two overs of forward defensive shots the time had come to sally down the track and duly chipped Barker to Rizwan at mid off where the fielder made no mistake.

Wayne Cutts had the opportunity to make his mark on the game when Brockett hooked Tattersall to backward square leg but Cutts spurned the opportunity, apparently more concerned with raising his hands to protect his face rather than seizing the chance. Tattersall struck a decisive blow when he cleaned up opener Howard for a top score of 17.

Brockett was given another life when he drove a sharp return catch back at Barker. The bowler dived away to his left and was surprised to end up clutching thin air as the ball cannoned off his knee and bounced into the covers. However, Barker claimed his revenge in the next over when he held on to another return offering to send Brockett back to the pavilion for 13.

Tattersall castled Davis for a duck and then turned his attention to Shinner. Ickleford’s wicketkeeper had spent most of the afternoon offering batting tips and helpful encouragement to the Offley batsmen and now found himself forced to endure a few observations from the fielding side. Batting in special shoes that evidently marked him out as some sort of special case, Shinner dabbed and missed at a succession of balls before edging Tattersall to first slip where Barker made no mistake.

Ickleford suddenly found themselves seven down and counting on McCulley to provide some stiff resistance. In the event the doughty cricketer offered as much resistance as the Italian Army as he played all around his first ball, a veritable crackerjack of a delivery from Tattersall that left McCulley marching back to the burnt out shell of a pavilion to contemplate the burnt out shell of the Ickleford innings.

Lockyer became Tattersall’s sixth victim and despite some defiant blows from Webb off Freeman the inevitable was confirmed when Maylin edged Tattersall to Austin and the keeper held the chance to wrap up the win.

The win keeps the season very much alive for Bexfield’s troops. Whereas defeat would have left them at least 45 points adrift of the leaders, the stunning victory allowed them to cut the gap to five points and keep hopes alive despite news that Hoar will not play again this season.