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Offley & Stopsley CC 202-8 V Langleybury III's 201-8 ; June 14th

OSCC Won by 2 Wkts

Playing second placed Langleybury, OSCC knew that only 30 points was good enough. Skipper Bexfield won the toss and decided to field, to the delight of the Offley players (breaking the traditional desire to sit around waiting to bat in such warm conditions), such was the desire to force a result.

Keeley and Freeman opened the attack for Offley, and it was clear from the start that the visitors where not second in the table by luck, as Ball and Currie took full advantage of Bexfield's fast outfield, and the fact that Offley took to the field with 10 men, with Darren Lunney spending much of the first ten overs in the farmers field relieving himself of the night before! causing Casper the friendly ghost (Lunney) to be late for the start. The first chance came when Freeman induced a genuine edge from Currie, unfortunately the chance was spilt by Cooper at second slip, denying Freeman the chance for his 100th wicket early in the piece.

Cooper replaced Freeman, and the bowling combo of Keeley and Cooper set about choking the life out of the innings, a task they both seemed to rather enjoy, as the runs dried up for the hosts. Keeley made the breakthrough to remove Ball for 19, as Brodie held onto a sharp chance at short extra cover. Keeley picked up the next wicket soon after when  Dhuvra foolishly attempted a back-foot drive on the traditionally low wicket  and was clean bowled. At the other end Cooper was bowling well, and picked up the wicket of Horne, as the batsmen missed a straight one.

After 17 over’s of pressure bolwing in the sun, Keeley was replaced by Chaudry, it was fine effort from Keeley, who ended with figures of 17 over 2 for 26, which included 8 maidens. After a spell of over’s in which Cooper and Keeley contained the partnership of Currie and Crawly, Chaudry produced a mixed spell of unplayable and buffet balls, whilst at the other end, Cooper continued to plug away for little reward, as Latino and Freeman both shelled chances from the bowling of Cooper. Unfortunately some damage had been done, as the visitors jumped from 120 to 170 within the space of 12 over’s.

Freeman was re-introduced to the attack from the football ground and immediatley found it to his liking finding a better line and length. A mix up between the batsmen caused Crawly to be run-out attempting a second run. After Pearce inflicted a couple of lusty blows from Cooper he restored order and clean-bowled the batsmen. Freeman finally removed Currie, to pick up his 100th wicket for the club, but Latino's earlier dropped catch had cost Offley 48 runs.

Cooper and Freeman both picked another wicket apiece, as the hosts reached the 200 run mark after 52.4 over’s, with their final total being 201-8 from 53 over’s. Having won the toss and elected to bowl first, Offley had to chase the runs down, as a draw would be less than useful.

With the clubs premier prima donna and batting artist dancing in the dark in Cardiff (R Barker), Offley’s hopes where reliant on a good start from the opening pair of Brodie and Bexfield. They didn’t disappoint as the visitors were milked around the ground, and after 10 over’s the scoreboard read 54 for 0. Brodie was first to go, as he chopped a ball onto his stumps, but after reaching 32, which most would consider a healthy start, Brodie should have really gone on to make the visitors pay. Chaudry started with watchful defence and looked to work the 1’s, before unleashing an almighty power hit down the ground. But it wasn’t to be his day, as Chaudry succumbed moments later to light hearted banter from behind the stumps, as after being encouraged to “give it a hit” he foolishly went back to try and cut a ball, and was clean bowled for 9.

Scott Addy joined Bexfield at the crease and immediately added impetus to the innings, mixing his customary mows through mid-wicket with the odd straight defensive prod. After being dropped by Pearce at deep midwicket twice in the space of a few balls, Addy produced perhaps the highlight of the match, as he first pointed in the direction of Pearce, and then proceeded to launch a huge six of the fielders head. Wicket-Keeper Horne had a nightmare in the next over, as Bexfield danced down the wicket and missed the ball, luckily for Offley the keeper missed the stumping chance.

Addy wasn’t going to die wondering, and after hitting a few more precious boundaries, he was bowled by Kelly, it was an innings that Offley had needed, and perhaps provided others with inspiration, leaving Addy to walk back to the pavilion with a score of 32. Lunney joined Bexfield, and the pair pushed the required amount down to 70 from 14 over’s, with Bexfield especially taking advantage of anything loose. The tiring Bexfield now looked as energetic as Keeley in the field after a 17 over spell, and it came as little surprise when he was caught behind for 59, but a captains knock it was, which hauled Offley close to their target.

Offley required 61 runs from 10 over’s, with Austin and Lunney at the wicket, but as mentioned before, Offley had to get the runs, or faced leaving with 6-7 points for a days work. The 9 players sitting in the pavilion could hardly believe there eyes as Austin charged down the wicket and slapped the ball over mid-wicket for four, his next trick was to craftily pinch the strike with a single from the last ball of the over. In the proceeding three over’s Austin plundered three boundaries and rotated the strike with easy, the hosts also wilted slightly and conceded 11 extras in two over’s. Lunney also got in on the act pulling a ball behind square leg for four, followed by a straight drive for a six. Shortly afterwards though Lunney died for the cause, and in the next over Austin charged down the wicket in search of more runs, but was stumped. It was a fine innings of 24 from Austin, and it helped catapult OSCC towards the target of 202 for victory. Cooper and Keeley both departed for single figures, but not before bringing the required total below double figures.

So it was left to Freeman and Latino to score 8 runs from 1.5 over’s, and with only Cutt’s left in the hutch, it was this pair who needed to get the runs. Latino was on strike, and pushed a single from his first ball, Freeman then wafted at one, leaving Offley to score 7 from 1.3 over’s. Freeman scored a tip-n-run style single to leave 6 to win. Latino pushed the next ball down towards mid-on, and because of Freemans good backing-up the pair turned a single into a precious two, and with a single milked from the last ball of the over, Offley required 3 from 6 balls with Latino on strike. Dot Ball, Dot ball, Offley requiring 3 from 4 balls. Latino smashed the next ball straight down the ground, the fielder let it through, allowing the pair to run the three required for victory.

A thrilling finish at 20:15 to a match that ebbed and flowed throughout. OSCC showed the fight throughout and won a tight exciting contest with only two balls to spare despite missing some regular first teamers. A much needed 30 points for the win to keep the club in touch with the top four. Also kept the unbeaten Saracens Herts League run of over 3 years going.

Thoroughly excellent days Cricket.