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Offley Stopsley 183-9 Vs Biddenham 238-7; 12th May

OSCC II's Lost by 55 runs

The Offley & Stopsley Lions travelled to the outskirts of Bedford for their first game of the season, to play Biddenham CC on a warm and pleasant afternoon. Upon arriving a Biddenham we were greeted with excellent facilities, unfortunately we were also greeted with a rock hard pitch and lightning outfield. Skipper Bexfield duly lost the toss, and OSCC were kindly invited to field!!! Offley had debutants Sanja Roy and Gavin Smith looking to impress, along with the newly de-retired Gourd. Some lucky players even had ring side seats watching Darrell Cooper enter his skins!! TO THE FIELD!!

Darrell Cooper and Kosla opened the bowling, and with both bowling their first overs of the season, some rustiness would be tolerated. Kosala settled in nicely, and completed his 8 over’s for the cost of 24 runs. However, the runs were flowing at the other end, with a mixture of vicious cut shots and straight hitting, but to be fair to Darrell it wasn’t buffet bowling, its just that anything that beat the fielder with the new ball was four. OSCC were fielding well given the circumstances, with Gavin and Gary particularly standing out.

After 12 overs the hosts had 60 on the board for the loss of no wicket, and with the opening stand looking to kick on, OSCC were staring down the barrel of 300. Bexfield decided to replace Cooper with Freeman, and the effect was immediate, Richardson was castled by a quick yorker from Freeman, during the celebration of the wicket, Latino ludicrously put forward the idea of wanting a hat-trick, to which he got a sharp rebuttal of “are you planning to score 50 today”. The number 3 only just avoided being cleaned up first ball, before Gavin held onto a catch off Freeman in the next over. After his devastating four overs Freeman was replaced Sanja, the debutant bowled well, picking up one wicket, when Gill went back and across to be trapped in front. After an 18 month break from cricket, Sanja bowled and fielded well, and will certainly improve with more games. Gary Chamberlin replaced Kolsa from the bottom end and got in the wickets after a couple of good over’s, when Freeman held onto a regulation chance at point to dismiss the opener Basi.

A double bowling change brought Ward and Gavin into the action, both bowled well and both got in the wickets, the highlights were Gary taking a superb sliding catch off Ward, and Ward hitting the very top of off-stump to remove Bhogal. Gourd came on for a couple of over’s towards the end, his first over was reminisant of a certain over from Scott Boswell. Gourd’s second over was better. Offley fielded very well for the 40 over’s, except for one shocking moment from Freeman when he allowed the batsmen to have an all run four!! The hosts ending with 238 from there 40 over’s.

With Dathan unavailable this week, it was left too Latino and Sanja to start the reply for Offley, Dan and Frank Carney didn’t open the bowling for the hosts, so the opening pair had too deal with a fairly useful opening spell, in which runs where hard to come by, and extras was top scoring. Bhogal was the bowler causing the most problems for the Offley batsmen, sending down 3 maidens and 1 wicket maiden in a speedy 7 over spell. At this point in time Freeman was down to bat at number 5. Latino was first to go, fooled by the slower ball, to be clean bowled for 6, a mere 44 runs short of his 50, a disappointing weekend with the bat after a duck against ickleford the previous day, bringing Damien in at number 3. From the off he tried to smash the ball around, and was sent on his way for 0 after a one-handed catch by Basi, and no, it wasn’t anything like a Paul Collingwood special, a more agile fielder would have taken the catch with both hands!! Chamberlin came to the wicket and looked to start playing himself in ready for a long knock. Sanja fell for 16, capping a good display on debut, bringing the skipper to the wicket, Offley at this point needing 180odd from 26 over’s. The partnership of Chamberlin and Bexfield set to work, with Bexfield hammering a quick fire 50, and when Chamberlin fell for a well composed 23, Offley required 112 from 11 over’s.

Gavin was the next man in, and with this being his first innings for a few seasons, he got caught in two minds when faced with a moon ball to be clean bowled for 0.Becks carried on his merry way, going into the 70’s with a sweetly timed 4 that spilt square leg and mid-wicket. Freeman picked his bat up, and was then kindly asked to return to his seat, as with a 98 needed from 10 over’s, it was an ideal chance for others to have a bat, Ward went in at 7 and played a couple of nice shots before being bowled, then Kosla came and went next ball wafting one to point. At this point Bexfield was approaching the 80’s, with Gourd joining him at the crease. Gourd came and went, leaving Bexfield to score 13 runs from 4 balls in search of a 100. Alas Bexfield scored 3 from the last 4 balls leaving him 90 not out, Darrell was also not out with 0. It was a fine knock from the captain, and with Bexfield in the team it has added the backbone to the batting that the side lacked last summer.

 All-in-all a very pleasant venue for cricket and sociable hosts, as the Offley players who went to the pub in the village where treated to an array of tasty treats, and the chance to discuss the days play!!