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Hatfield CC 159-9 Vs Offley & Stopsley CC 161-3  - 18th May

OSCC Won by 7 Wkts

(Official Match Sponsors: Bexfield’s Nursery: Turning The Second Rate Into First Class!)

OSCC  returned to the scene of some of their darkest days to inflict a resounding defeat on a new-look Hatfield side. Steve Hoar shrugged off the after-effects of two nights of heavy drinking to record his first fifty of the season and skipper Nathan Brodie and Richie Barker both sparkled with the bat as Offley eased to victory with 12 overs and seven wickets in hand.

Things got off to an ordinary start as Brodie lost the toss and Offley were forced to field as Hatfield elected to bat first on a track that looked as if it would have plenty of runs in it. With Qumar and Scott Addy exploring the highways and byways of Hertfordshire, Offley were forced to field with nine players for the first seven overs.

However, Rizwan grabbed an early wicket and produced an excellent eight-over spell to keep Hatfield’s top order from cutting loose. At the other end Carl Clare struggled to find his line and sent down a number of wides (Offley’s bowlers delivered 18 on the day) before giving way to Mark Tattersall. Despite making his first appearance of the season Tattersall showed no signs of rust and sent down eight overs for just 20 runs. Rizwan picked up his second wicket before Colin Keeley took over from the pavilion end. Thriving in his new role as first change bowler, Keeley produced a solid spell that yielded the key wicket of Bigley for 35 as he launched an expansive drive at the man named Roadshow and dragged the ball on to his stumps. Keeley might have picked up a second wicket but the diving Hoar was unable to cling on to a chance at mid-on adding one more to the totalk of dropped catches of his bowling so far this year..

That brought the dangerous Whitehead to the wicket and 2007’s leading batsman looked ready to launch an assault against Barker and Qumar. However, the onslaught failed to materialise as Hatfield’s batting disintegrated. Despite a truly wretched first ball offering that was lucky to get away with only being hit for four, Barker picked up three wickets, including opener Shah for a dogged 39, and Brodie ran out two batsmen as the innings fell apart and Hatfield were forced to settle for 159, a target that looked to be at least 40 runs shy of a competitive total. Whitehead finished unbeaten on 34 but Offley had every reason to think they could chase the target down.

Brodie elected to lead from the front and crashed the first ball through point for 4 as he looked to build on his century of the previous day. At the other end Barker played himself in before taking the attack to the bowlers. Despite extracting some serious pace from the pitch – Bigley in particular marked himself down as a bowler to be avoided in the not-too-distant future – Hatfield were unable to stem the onslaught as Brodie and Barker took a savage toll on anything loose. The pair combined for 15 boundaries and just nine singles as they cut loose. Brodie looked in no trouble at all before slicing a drive to extra cover after making 38 to make it 66-1.

Hoar joined Barker at the wicket and was soon into his stride, helping himself to three boundaries in four deliveries off the hapless Shah. Barker looked on course for a third consecutive half-century in the North Herts League before spearing a short ball to point after he had made 47. 113-2 became 113-3 one ball later as Tattersall played all around a straight one and was out for a golden duck in his first innings of the season. The last time he played at Hatfield he was bowled without offering a shot so there are perhaps signs of progress.

Mo Chaudry narrowly avoided being timed out and rushed out to the middle to join Hoar. The pair looked at ease as they knocked off the remaining runs, Hoar finishing with 10 boundaries in his unbeaten 56 as Offley made it three wins in a row to start the campaign. Offley head into their week off looking full of confidence and playing a relaxed, intense style of cricket that has so far proved too hot for their opponents to handle, although the fact that Offley conceded 31 extras (95 in three North Herts games so far out of a total of 509 runs conceded) and their youthful opponents allowed just seven should give some cause for concern. 

It remains to be seen whether Offley & Stopsley will be able to sustain the momentum in a fortnight’s time when Steve Bexfield leads his team to Holwell while Brodie’s boys face Preston IIIs in the first instalment of Celebrity Cricket Swap.