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Houghton Town 221- 8 Vs Offley & Stopsley CC 220-8 ; 15th June

OSCC Lost by 2 Wkts

In the absence of our regular correspondent, we are delighted to take advantage of this report from Fred Cliché of the Houghton Regis Gazette on the epic clash between the Offley & Stopsley Cricket Club and their opponents, the Houghton Regis School of Creative Accounting and Numeracy.

Playing away on their own home ground, Offley batted first with Nathan Brodie opening the batting with veteran captain Stephen Bexfield. Their opponents countered by opening the bowling with veteran seamers B. Shoes and C. Jumper. Brodie and Bexfield were soon into their stride, as the runs began to flow due to a combination of first-rate batting and third-rate fielding – same as it ever was, as those fine song-smiths Talking Heads once observed. Yet how fortunate is the cricketer who only has to face such opponents once in a lifetime?

C. Hucker was introduced into the attack in a bid to stem the flow of runs but Brodie looked in imperious form, the young pretender to Bexfield’s throne, easing through the gears and racing to his half-century before being dismissed for 52. Qumar joined Bexfield and batted impressively for a while before being forced to retire hurt. That brought Run Machine Jon Cerasale to the crease. However, his 2008 average of 66 and his fine run of form was brutally interrupted as he was bowled by Horace Morris for no score. The Run Machine returned to the garage.

Darren Lunney entered the fray, unaware that an ICC inquiry was hanging over his head. For years it had been assumed that Lunney was a right-handed batsman who liked to push the envelope by batting left-handed in a bid to make the game more interesting. What other explanation could there be for his history of inconsistent scores and horrible dismissals? Lunney played well, striking the ball with aplomb and racing to 18 before his innings was cut short in his prime with an LBW decision that was as much a reward for the bowlers and fielders spirited appealing throughout the afternoon as it was a reward for the delivery that would not have hit another set of stumps.

Yet as the innings threatened to unravel at the other end, Bexfield rose to the occasion, as the former Limbury Lasher took charge and smote the bowlers to all parts. Short balls, full balls, sponge balls, balls with picked seams, were all treated with the same disdain as the captain, a veteran of countless engagements with the foe, took charge, to record his first century of the season. Bexfield batted like a king, an emperor, a maharajah if you will – which would presumably make him the Maharajah of Marsh Farm.

Despite a late flurry of ducks as a succession of batsmen tried and died for the cause, Offley finished on 220, a total that promised to be competitive and offered the chance to force a victory provided Dame Fortune smiled on Bexfield’s troops and kept a watchful eye on the School of Creative Accounting and Numeracy in their bid to deal with the tricky job of keeping score.

In typical fashion the batting side erupted in a flow of lashes, slashes and flashes – the type of thing that brings a smile to a certain gremlin associated with the club who allegedly likes to be lashed while getting a flash of one of his favourites having a slash – as the ball disappeared to all corners. Offley’s bowlers gamely kept to their task but found themselves fighting a losing battle against a steady stream of batsmen combined with a statuesque umpire and a cabal of scorers who mowed down the Offley total like a lunatic let loose with a Gatling Gun. The bowlers performed heroics and the game was in the balance before the umpire was sadly stricken by a bout of Tourettes that forced him to signal wides at inopportune moments, regardless of where the ball pitched or what it actually hit. Through it all Skipper Bexfield maintained a stiff upper lip, the type of expression used by British subalterns when faced with hopeless situations on the North West Frontier during the heady days of Empire.

Ultimately it was to no avail as the School of Creative Accounting and Numeracy triumphed thanks to fine work with the bat from T. Cozi and Shahlahtan and exceptional performances on the abacus from C. Heat as Extras finished with a fine 59, a majestic performance from this talented achiever who made the game look so simple and displayed the true class of the player who scores more than you ever thought possible in such a short space of time.

Commiserations to a plucky Offley side who defied expectations to run their opponents so close but at least they have the satisfaction of being able to delve into their rich club history and take succour from the memories of the rally from 11-6 and last year’s Great Chase. Also a word of sympathy for Skipper Bexfield, the man of the hour, who became the first Offley batsman to score two centuries for the club in a losing cause.

To anyone associated with the School of Creative Accounting and Numeracy who takes exception to the way they might have been portrayed in this account, then my advice to you if you don’t like your antics being reported then don’t do it.