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Offley & Stopsley, 138-9 Vs Hornsey, 227-7 : 25th April
OSCC Lost by by 89 runs
(Offley won by default owing to Hornsey’s Michaels bowling 9 overs)
An under-strength Offley side slipped to an 89-run loss against Hornsey as they were overpowered by a strong side who seemed intent on flexing their muscles in a manner reminiscent of Australia playing Zimbabwe. This was slightly ironic as one or two of the Hornsey players had personalities that compared unfavourably with Robert Mugabe. Hornsey’s desperation to win – a ruthless desire that made the Nazis conquest of Poland look like a mild example of over-ambition – culminated in allowing seamer Michaels to bowl nine overs, one more than his allotted eight, thereby forfeiting the match.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first, evidently eager to cash in against a weakened Offley attack. Matthew Freeman proved he was over the back strain that hampered him against Lilley in the season opener and delivered six overs off the reel but without success. However, Offley rarely threatened to make the breakthrough and the Hornsey openers encountered few problems until Darren Lunney struck with his first delivery, toppling forward to take a smart return catch to dismiss Allen for 29.
Wayne Cutts was introduced into the attack after returning from the third retirement of his career. However, after just four balls it appeared as if Cutts might be getting ready to hang up his bowling boots once again – at this point it was a close call as to whether Cutts would hang up his boots or whether his captain would attempt to hang him up by his bootlaces. Lunney misjudged the first ball of the over and allowed it to go for 4 but after a further three deliveries, Cutts boasted the dubious figures of 0.4-0-18-0. An emotional meltdown looked to be on the cards but Cutts dug deep, searching for the hero inside himself, and hit back by having Massingham caught on the boundary by Nathan Brodie as the Australian failed to safely negotiate the ring of five fielders on the legside boundary.
Chris Latino produced a brilliant one-handed catch to account for O’Connor for 78 and Richie Barker produced a snorting googly to bowl Goldberg for 12 after the ball deflected off both the batsman’s pads. Youngster Jack Willis – a late replacement for Gary Chamberlain who was forced to miss the match in order to take his mum’s dog for a walk – claimed a wicket when he persuaded the hefty Bruce to miscue a slog into the deep and Barker made a relatively tricky job look even more difficult than it really was. Cutts dropped a sitter at midwicket as he lifted his skirt and attempted to catch the ball in his vagina without chipping a fingernail but debutant Colin Williams picked up two wickets at the death as he produced an impressive two-over burst to restrict the visitors to 227-7 from their 40 overs.
The odds were clearly stacked against Offley as they set out in search of 228 to win but they made a solid start. Brodie and Lunney were charged with the task of opening the innings for Offley and shared a partnership of 26 with few alarms. However, the stand was broken when Brodie walked across his stumps and was trapped in front for 9. Lunney and Latino took the score to 40 before things began to disintegrate in disastrous fashion, as Offley surrendered their next six wickets for a dismal 12 runs.
Latino aimed an aggressive drive down the ground and was stunned to see Coleman, keen as mustard, reach down and scoop a return catch off his toes to send the batsman on his way for 5. A few moments later debutant Dhrupal Patel miscued a leg glance and sent the ball into orbit. The batsmen almost had the opportunity to run two before the keeper held the catch to send Patel on his way for a single to leave Offley rocking at 43-3.
At this point things began to deteriorate rather rapidly as the next four wickets fell for just nine runs. Lunney, who had mixed aggressive stroke play with some relatively suicidal running, edged a catch behind. The gritty northerner trudged off after making 23. Williams marched out to the middle and promptly missed his first ball, subsequently marching back after registering a golden duck on his debut and echoing the traditional lament of Offley’s more famous Colin by complaining that he had been undone by a shooter. The ball did indeed go underneath his bat but it still knocked back the top of middle stump with Williams optimistically playing for bounce; 46-5. Coleman now found himself on a hat trick but Marc Ward doggedly defended the killer ball. However, Coleman contented himself by castling Gary Law for 2 and when Ward missed a rather optimistic slog off Deveney Offley had plumbed the depths of 52-7.
At this point in proceedings the visitors got slightly cross and frustrated by Offley’s refusal to role over and capitulate for 60, especially one or two of the heftier members of the team who were evidently ready for a pie – even though it was all too evident that they were in no desperate need of a rice cake or a cream cracker let alone another pie.
Barker and Freeman came together and after a few scares where Barker seemed determined to succumb without troubling the scorers, managed to more than double the score, sharing a stand of 62 to lift Offley to the relative prosperity of 114. Showing a refreshing desire to take the attack to the bowlers, Freeman dominated the early stages of the partnership and ignored some of the side-splitting observations from the visitors to make an impressive 22 before misjudging a delivery from the mildly obese off-spinner Fawden.
The hefty Fawden – whose previous greatest achievement in life was to avoid being mistaken for Moby Dick’s sister and escaping the threat of harpooning – added to his wicket tally when he removed Willis without scoring to leave Offley on 114-9.
Cutts walked to the crease with 5.3 overs remaining and the only real interest lay in whether Offley could negotiate the remaining deliveries and if Barker could reach his 50. With the spherical Fawden chirping away from his position at gulley, backward point and cover and some fat twat with a beard also weighing in with some hilarious remarks, Cutts dug in, eschewing his favoured paddle sweep in preference for a solid forward defence. Barker brought up his half-century with a majestic 6 over midwicket as he deposited Fuller into the trees. The pair added 24 to take the score up to 138-9 before the game reached its conclusion.
The magnificent Hornsey, clearly a team fit to rival the ’84 West Indians and Steve Waugh’s Australians, were left to reflect on the fact that they only managed to take two wickets against a weakened team in the final 19 overs of the game despite over-bowling their opening bowler Michaels (thereby forfeiting the game) even though there didn’t seem to be any great reason for bowling a man who was hammered for three successive boundaries by Barker. In other words they weren’t quite as magnificent as one or two of their players seemed to think.
Without wishing to adopt the Peter Moores’ approach to defeat (bearing in mind Offley have now lost at least four in a row dating back to last season and no one can remember who the last victory was against, let alone when it was), Offley were able to take plenty of positives from the performance.
Williams made an impressive debut with the ball, Law produced a fine performance behind the stumps, Willis turned in a strong effort in the field and earned his reward with a wicket and Freeman confirmed his potential with the bat.
The result left something to be desired but the satisfaction derived from the performance ensured that Offley had something to build on before the start of the league campaign.