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Offley & Stopsley, 142-4, Vs  Boxmoor, 141-9 ; 5th May

OSCC Won by six wickets

(Official Match Sponsors: Freeman’s House of Pies)

Offley & Stopsley made it five wins in a row at the start of the campaign as they cruised to a comfortable victory against Boxmoor on an afternoon ruined by continuous pitch invasions from some of the more retarded members of the Hemel Hempstead community and briefly enlivened by a call to the local police department following a fracas involving an opposing fielder and some of the local MENSA members.

After their two hard-fought league wins at the weekend there were one or two members of the team who looked as if they would rather be elsewhere – notably Richie Barker who dropped a pair of catches and demonstrated the agility and athleticism of a vaulting horse and birthday boy Nathan Brodie who would have preferred to be tucking into jelly and ice cream. Chris Latino also looked as if he would welcome a one-way trip to the knacker’s yard.

Boxmoor won the toss and got off to a good start, aided by some lucky edges and some fairly iffy fielding. Matthew Freeman produced a solid five-over spell before giving way to Marc Ward who made the breakthrough. Ward cravenly hurled himself out of the way of a return catch, hugging the turf in a manner presumably not taught him by Coach Keeley, before striking the first blow and castling Gorringe. Barker had Harper dropped by Lunney in the deep, a shocking effort considering the fielder did not have to move a muscle but Barker soon got his man with the aid of a slightly dubious LBW decision. Harper slowly dragged himself away from the crease after making it clear that he did not think it was much of a decision. Barker should have had two wickets in three balls but Freeman, charging forward from mid on like a startled rhino bursting out of the foliage, shelled a sitter.

Gary Chamberlain got in on the act by picking up a couple of wickets before Lunney demonstrated his value as a slow bowling option by knifing through the tail like a demented puppeteer turning an episode of the Muppets into a slasher movie. Lunney picked up three wickets (Kermit, Animal and Waldorf) despite Barker repaying the earlier favour and dropping a chance in the outfield, even though he had to dive full length – or topple over, depending on one’s point of view. Freeman picked up a wicket thanks to a marvellous catch from Latino – his second of the day and seventh of the season – before finding an extra three yards of pace after a small child came to the crease. Freeman made no mistake, blasting through the young chap’s defensive prod to smash the stumps to smithereens, before treating the departing batsman to a long hard stare designed to leave him in do doubt as to who was the daddy.

Lunney and Latino opened the batting and made serene progress before Lunney blasted a full toss into the midriff of extra cover. He walked off with an air of disbelief, funny really considering he’s smashed plenty of full tosses to fielders in the past. After some early playing and missing Latino made a composed 25 before he was bowled playing a typically incompetent shot to a slow bowler (his dismissal was loudly cheered by his bosom chum Freeman) and Chamberlain went first ball to give Boxmoor a glimmer of getting back into the game at 72-3.

However, Chico Woods hit the ball in fine style on his debut, displaying a typical Caribbean flair for the occasion. Woods helped carry the game away from Boxmoor with a flurry of boundaries and he shared a decisive stand with Dathan Sale. After Woods was bowled attempting one optimistic smear too many it was left to Sale and Brodie to carry Offley home, the birthday boy scoring the winning run to cap a successful weekend for the visitors.