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Offley & Stopsley CC 234-8 Vs Langleybury CC 204-9 ; 13th Sept

Match Drawn (timed game)

Offley enjoyed the better of a draw in a rare time game at Langleybury but were not quite able to claim victory.

Richie Barker won the toss and elected to bat, gambling that his battery of seam bowlers would be able to force victory later in the day. Chris Austin and Darren Lunney opened the batting and shared a useful stand of 58. Lunney was quickly into his stride, exacting a fearsome toll on anything short and wide. Austin pottered along nicely, playing a few solid pushes and nicking the ball with aplomb before finally departing for a composed 16 after casually flicking a ball to square leg.

Colin Williams was next in and he struggled to come to terms with the bounce. Williams eventually ended his first season for Offley in the same manner that he began it – by being dismissed without scoring as he edged a catch to the keeper.

Barker and Lunney took the score past 100 and Lunney brought up his second half-century of the wicket with a fine straight drive. Lunney looked set for a big score when he fell to an ugly swipe and was well caught at midwicket for 59. Damian Sale never settled against the spinners and it was no real surprise when he was bowled without scoring attempting an optimistic drive to leave Offley on 113-4.

Nathan Brodie and Barker joined forces and set Offley on the way to a competitive total with a stand of 71 in nine overs. After patiently playing himself in Barker took the aerial route, launching a one-handed six out of the ground and going to his 50 by smashing fast bowler Higgs into the scorebox. He crashed his fourth six of the day, a magnificent shot over backward point, to go to 66. Unfortunately he was still admiring the shot the next ball when he lost his off stump attempting something equally expansive.

That sparked a collapse as Offley lost four wickets for nine runs to slip to 193-8. Brodie was bowled attempting a horrid slog across the line. Marc Ward got off the mark with a glorious leg glance but was soon cleaned up by a straight ball. Symon Wardley walked to the wicket feeling the pressure, knowing that a duck would give him an unwanted edge in the race for the Duck Watch Trophy. Despite this he bravely ran a quick single to face Langleybury’s fastest bowler. His teammates watched from the balcony with an air of expectation as Wardley’s stumps were duly blown to smithereens before he had scored to give him his seventh duck of the campaign.

Dathan Sale and Matthew Freeman shared an enterprising stand of 41 to take Offley to 234. Sale hit 18 runs in an over, including a huge six over long off. Freeman racked up yet another not out, finishing on 14 and narrowly avoiding claiming another run out victim by luring Sale down the pitch only for a wayward throw to grant him a reprieve. Barker called a halt to proceedings after 46 overs and Offley’s players duly headed for tea, a splendid feast that included warm chocolate fudge brownies, inevitably ruling Freeman out of opening the bowling.

Brodie and Darrell Cooper shared the new ball and both bowled tidy spells with little luck. Cooper, initially serving up a pair of sod-awful long hops, found pace and bounce as he rolled back the years while Brodie bowled with typical aggression. However, the pair were unable to make the breakthrough and gave way to Freeman and Wardley.

Freeman chugged into bowl like Billy Bunter running to the tuck shop. He generated some impressive movement off the pitch and started off with arguably his best over of the year. Wardley took a little while to get into his groove but was soon bowling to good effect and made the breakthrough when he bowled Loomes for 38. Freeman quickly added a second wicket when he removed Currie. Serving up arguably his worst ball of the day, a loopy full toss, Freeman’s despair turned to joy as the batsman chipped it to mid on where Williams took a sprawling low catch. Wardley bowled Carr to put Offley on top at the drinks break. By this time Offley had bowled a ludicrous 26 overs, thereby ensuring that Langleybury would face 46 overs as they had which wasn’t necessarily part of the plan.

The hosts needed 135 runs from the final 20 overs but they seemed determined to go for the target. Mclachlan looked good before needlessly running himself out thanks to a half stop from Williams and a good throw from Dathan Sale. However, skipper Murray and youngster Spistry refused to go quietly and chanced their arm against Ward. Ward bowled with impressive pace but his customary lack of luck and the runs began to flow. Barker stemmed the tide by bowling Spistry but was promptly smeared for a massive 6 by Pearce. However, the momentum looked to have swung in Offley’s favour as Barker bowled Murray but Langleybury kept attacking.

Cooper yorked the barrel-chested Higgs and Barker beat Pearce in the flight to make it eight down. However, Offley were unable to find a way through the ninth wicket pair until the final ball of the innings when Martin went for a big drive and sliced Barker to Wardley.

Despite failing to pick up the win Offley took plenty of positives from the day and generally enjoyed their afternoon out at an excellent venue, complete with the finest tea of the season.