Offley made it four wins on the spin as they stormed to a seven-wicket win over Bayford & Hertford. Nathan Brodie hit an unbeaten 88 and Mo Chaudry made 62 as they shared a third-wicket stand of 125 to lead Offley to victory with five overs to spare.
Dave Bridgland lost the toss and Offley found themselves subjected to an afternoon in the field. After being summoned to the (metaphorical) head master’s office to receive a stern talking to regarding his conduct in the field, Matthew Freeman opened the bowling and produced a solid opening burst without really looking like taking a wicket as Davis and Samuluk dug in. The first real chance came when Darren Lunney was introduced into the attack and he induced a false drive from Samuluk. The ball headed towards Freeman at mid off where the fielder – apparently employing a new fielding technique – limbo danced under the ball instead of catching it. This was a case of crouching tiger hidden brain cell.
Richie Barker made the breakthrough when Davis miscued an expansive drive to Nathan Brodie at extra cover. Samuluk enjoyed another reprieve when Chris Austin failed to hold on to a catch behind the stumps and Barker gave way to Wayne Cutts. Cutts should have had a wicket in his opening over but Nathan “I never drop catches” Brodie spilled the chance. Cutts bowled with good control while the miserly Lunney produced an excellent spell at the other end.
However, the Bayford total continued to mount as Samuluk and the older Davis both moved past 50. Bridgland bowled two expensive overs before removing himself in favour of Freeman. The portly paceman finally ended the 117-run stand when Samuluk played on. Davis seemed destined to become the first player to score a Saracens League century against Offley before he sliced a drive off Bridgland to Brodie at cover. Bridgland and Marc Ward did a nice job of keeping the score down in the closing overs aided by some fairly indifferent batting from Mudd and Morris who seemed content to try and pinch singles rather than swinging for the boundaries. The innings closed after 53 overs with the score on 212-3.
Offley’s reply began well as Barker and Steve Bexfield put on 24 in five overs before a slight misunderstanding over a quick single resulted in Barker ploughing into the turf with all the grace and elegance of a mortally wounded buffalo. The mortally wounded buffalo extracted himself from the turf (leaving a trench on a length) with as much dignity and shuffled off to contemplate dropping himself. Bexfield soon followed him back to the pavilion after yet again falling prey to his Achilles’ heel – the loopy leg stump full toss – leaving Brodie and Chaudry with plenty to do to drag Offley back into contention.
Despite the certain conviction in the pavilion that Brodie would reach 20 before getting himself stumped, the 10-stone stripling looked determined to play a big innings. He passed up the opportunity to throw his wicket away and picked up the runs where he could, on one occasion even managing to swing a full toss away for 6, thereby becoming perhaps the most malnourished Offley player ever to clear the ropes (even if the ball did actually land on the rope instead of clearing it).
At the other end Chaudry matched Brodie stroke for stroke, hammering boundaries with his meaty blade and scattering the field. Both players reached their half-century in the same over and they looked set to bat through to the end before Chaudry succumbed to a fairly ugly swipe and lobbed a catch to midwicket. However, Lunney joined Brodie and ensured there would be no reprieve for Hertford as they knocked the remaining 36 runs off in quick time. Brodie finished on 88 from 104 balls as Offley stormed to victory.
The win sets up an intriguing clash next week at Old Camdenians when Offley travel to face the league leaders. Camdenians have won five games out of a five, brutalising bowling attacks in the process and look to be the team to beat.
It’s time for Bridgland’s team to cowboy up and see if they have what it takes to live with the big boys. Paging Mr Freeman.....