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Offley and Stopsley II's 180-8 Vs Whitwell CC 249-6 - 27th July

 OSCC lost by 69 runs

A developing Offley team took on a strong Whitwell XI at the slightly bumpy, but pleasant Whitwell Village Park. The game offered the chance for two debuts, as Offley villager Shaun Creech played his first proper game of cricket in 20 years and Adam Ward stepped up from the colts to join older brother Mark in the senior side. After a conversation between the captains it was agreed that Whitwell would bat first, and given the teams lack of run scoring pedigree it seemed a fair decision.

Offley started the game with 10 men, but in the second over of the match the Lions where granted a life-line as Scott Addy turned up to watch and was drafted in as statue and specialist batsmen. Cooper and M Ward opened the attack and both bowled well, as the batsmen seemed content to see off the shine. M Ward struck first as Middleton played a poor shot at a short ball to be caught and bowled, and from what transpired it was some what of a mistake to remove the struggling opener. From ball one the number 3 Edwards was advancing down the track, and blasted Ward out of the attack and at the other end Priestly opened up to spoil Coopers good start with 3 consecutive boundaries.

Freeman was introduced into the attack, and immediately produced a false shot from Edwards, as the batsmen skied a simply chance to safe hands Gourd at Mid-Off, unfortunately the ball thudded into the ground. From that moment on Freeman was smashed to all parts of the ground, the highlight of which was when the batsmen got down on one knee and guided a full-pace delivery over fine leg for four. At the other end Lunney was fairing no better, as the batsmen helped themselves to boundaries both sides of the wicket.

After a brutal 10 over period, Lunney made the breakthrough as Edwards skied another chance up in the air, and after horrendously dropping his previous 6 efforts Freeman held onto a fine high catch near the deep-midwicket boundary to remove Edwards for a fine knock of 69. Gourd came into the attack and was promptly dispatched everywhere as Priestly and Ross-Hurst predicted a riot, and got one, as his two over’s cost a mere 31 runs. Lunney removed the dangerous Priestly as the batsmen looked to up the run-rate even more, it was good effort from Lunney, and although the figures probably don’t show it, he definitely bowled better than last week, sending down two bad balls during his spell.

The wicket allowed A Ward and Page to be introduced into the attack, and it was the little ginger terrier who struck, as he removed Zealand with his first ball as a senior, the batsmen tamely chipping a catch to small hands at extra cover, it was also a bit of relief for the skipper, as he had shelled his previous three chances. A Ward continued to bowl well and his 4 over’s cost 8 runs, and in a few years time the Ward brothers, will un-doubtable lead the attack for the Offley first time. At the other end Page was a tad unlucky as he bowled almost all of his balls at the aggressive Ross-Hurst, and the batsmen punished anything not on a good length. Page is improving game by game, but has quickly learnt that chasing leather around Hertfordshire with a hangover isn’t fun!! 

After all that action there was still time for Bexfield to run out a small child and for Cooper to run out Ross-Hurst, oh and for Freeman to get spanked for another 14 runs by another Welwyn Garden City Player!! 

After a reflective tea interval, Bexfield and Addy began the chase, the batting line-up looked a touch fragile, so any early break-through would have been a disaster. Addy played a typical innings, as he mixed some defence with boundary piercing attack. He had reached 30, which included a huge 6 over square-leg, before being bowled from the inside edge, to leave Offley 40 odd for 1. Damien had a horrid swipe at a ball hitting middle stump to continue his poor run of form that makes it 12 runs from 6 trips to the crease.

M Ward joined Bexfield at the crease and the pair began to tick the scoreboard over, as the skipper seemed content to wait for the bad ball which he consistently sent to the boundary and Ward worked the ball away through the packed point and cover region, and both batsmen punished the leg-stump presents on offer. Bexfield reached his 50 with a lovely shot that pierced Point and Gully on its way for four. But the introduction of S Orton into the game changed things rapidly as he bowled 5 tight over’s, before he removed M Ward for a career best 26, to leave Offley 3 down with 130-odd on the board.

Then the talk of the fragile middle order really rang true, as S Orton claimed 4 wickets in two over’s, which included a hat-trick, as Creech, A Ward, Page and Gourd were all dismissed for 0 to leave 130 odd for 7.  Freeman joined Bexfield at the crease having been on standby since the start of the innings, and the pair began to work the ball around the field in addition to Bexfield adding some big hits, as the pair moved the score past 150. With 8 over’s to go Bexfield decided to take some risks as the light began to fade, and died for the cause to be bowled for a fine score of 87.

Cooper came in at number 10 and batted with no real hardship, except for the moment when he had to swat away the beamer from near his ear, as he and Freeman remained unbeaten with 5 and 13 respectively at the close.  Offley finished 69 runs sort of their target, but it was an all round good performance given the strength on the opponents.

Match Report by Mathew Freeman