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Offley & Stopsley CC 187-7 Vs Titanic 180-9 ;4th May
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Offley & Stopsley overcame Titanic in an epic struggle that made the movie of the same name look like a run-of-the-mill episode of Neighbours by comparison. Fortunes swung both ways throughout the match before skipper Nathan Brodie came on to bowl the final over of the match with Titanic still needing 10 to win with two wickets in hand.
Brodie’s day began well when he won the toss and elected to bat first on a surface that did not promise to offer much help for the batsmen. Chris Austin opened the batting with Richie Barker but was soon on his way after stepping across the stumps and fatally exposed his stumps while trying to work the ball to leg in a fairly un-Austin like manner.
Mo Chaudry joined Barker and the scoreboard began to creak into life, Barker launching a six over long off before damaging the toe of his bat with a mistimed pull. Two overs later he succeeded in breaking the toe with a mistimed hook. Surprisingly for a man with a couple of spare bats to his name he did not have a reserve with him and was forced to borrow Chris Latino’s blade, apparently working on the premise that there were a few runs in it. Chaudry fell aiming a grotesque swipe across the line to the spin of Maskell to bring Jon Cerasale to the crease. Cerasale got off the mark with a straight six but was soon testing out the toe of his new bat as he and Barker struggled to adjust to a pitch that had about as much life in it as a rotting corpse. Barker and Cerasale added 80 for the third wicket before Barker was caught on the boundary, shortly after registering his third half-century of the season.
Cerasale provided the impetus as the last 10 overs yielded 78 runs. He finished with five sixes (Offley hit eight maximums and just six 4s) and had made 69 when he swung across a straight one and fell LBW. Nathan Brodie made a useful 15, Darren Lunney ran between the wickets with his usual demented road runner fervour and Carl Clare swung himself off his feet attempting to deposit his only ball into the North Sea as Offley set Titanic 188 to win.
Titanic got off to a good start and Offley looked to be heading for defeat before Latino hurled himself to his left to intercept McGowan’s thunderously struck drive. It was a magnificent catch that dragged Offley back into the contest. Latino took an easier, albeit equally crucial catch, on the boundary to dismiss Cimini for 56 and spark a slump.
Orton chipped a catch to Cerasale at short midwicket before Barker bowled Allum with one that kept a little low as the batsman charged down the pitch. When Austin took a fine catch diving forward to dismiss the other McGowan and Chaudry blew through Maskell’s defences Offley were on top.
However, Cooksey and Fox carried Titanic towards sight of the finish line before Cooksey lofted Barker high to Latino where the fielder took his third catch of the day. Despite that Titanic still wanted just 17 from the final three overs but Cerasale and Barker conceded just seven runs between them and gave Brodie a little breathing room ahead of the last over. The captain stepped up and effectively settled the outcome with his second ball when Fox swung him away towards the boundary but put the ball straight down Lunney’s throat at cow corner, the catch that irrevocably sunk Titanic.
Victory was sealed moments later and sparked delirious scenes of celebration from assembled members of Lilley C.C. who had turned up to watch a thrilling game of cricket and discovered that the combination of eight pints of lager and an Offley win is the same as discovering that not only is Santa Claus real but that she’s also a dead-ringer for Cameron Diaz and has a couple of presents for a good boy nestling in her dress.