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Offley & Stopsley CC 130-0 Vs St Josephs CC 125-10 ; 11 Sept

OSCC Won by 10 Wkts

On the day when the world remembered the tragic events of 9/11 in New York, two cricket clubs gathered to commemorate the life and memory of a much loved friend of both clubs, a man who loved his cricket and St Josephs Cricket Club. to compete for the Steve Turner Memorial Trophy.

As the summer entered its final stages, and the warm glow of autumn gathered around Offley, the men of St Joseph’s arrived to play their annual fixture against Offley & Stopsley.  This fixture, long standing in the annals of both teams, acquired greater significance last season with the presentation of the Steve Turner Memorial Trophy for the first time.  St Joseph’s were the victors on that day and Offley were looking to change their luck against their old rivals.

With Offley’s usual Saturday skipper standing aside for the match, Colin Keeley took the challenge determined to turn around Offley's awful record against St Joseph’s, with an an 8 year record of defeat he was determined to halt this hoodoo. After winning the toss he put St Joseph’s in to bat on yet another low, slow Offley track; the groundsman has worked hard this year to improve the square, but early morning rain had rendered the wicket wet and pudding-like. With an eye on the sky, seeing blue sky to the west, local knowledge led Keeley to believe conditions were perfect for a bowl. A decision that proved itself true.

Offley & Stopsley took to the field one short, as Hook had not arrived at the ground.  Meantime, at the boundary Chris Latino was the lone spectator at the match.  Finally someone asked him to step in for the absent Hook; he declined at first saying that Hook would arrive the minute he got changed but then capitulated, only to see young Josh jumping from his mother’s car as Latino walked towards the field.  However, he was then offered the chance to play for the opposition which he gladly accepted, pleased to play a part in such an important match. 

St Joseph’s opened with Steve Hunt and Luke Munt (former Crawley Green Nomad, now playing for Hexton, having seen the error of his ways. Here’s hoping he soon rids himself of his other disgusting addiction to watford fc).

Steve Hunt lasted just 5 balls before falling to a refreshed and reborn Mathew Freeman. 

Munt should have followed him quickly back to the pavilion but was dropped after he had faced just 2 balls of Niven’s first over.  It proved an expensive error as Munt went on to score 70 off 70 balls, his 50 coming off 55 balls in 55 minutes.  In all he hit 5 sixes and 5 fours but he was also dropped twice more by Gary Chamberlain in the deep and by Dave Bridgland at gulley.  His innings was finally ended by Darren Lunney with a wicked slider that kept low, indecision found him neither forward nor back in his crease.  Meanwhile, Kelly laboured for some 60 deliveries to amass a meagre 11 and A Tebbitt looked similarly lacking in fluency. 

Tom Riley’s brief sojourn at the crease began with a magnificently ominous shot through the covers, only to lose his wicket 2 balls later to a beautifully athletic catch down the leg side from keeper Damian Sale. The Offley slayer in so many games of the past had departed for only 4 and with him St Josephs hopes of a large score went west.

He was followed by the younger Tebbitt, who had not played cricket for some time and set off to bat without his pads!  He lasted just 8 balls, but it was long enough to see his father dispatched by Bridgland, one of four batsmen to fall to his lofted deliveries for just 19 runs.  This was Bridgland’s best analysis of the season.

Jones’ brief flurry of an innings included two falls and a near submission as he threw his bat (literally) at the ball and then chased after the bat while the non-striker advanced up the track for a single.  It was nearly a disaster but he regained his crease in time, only to be undone shortly after by the beguiling left arm spin of the younger Ward.  Ruben departed for a golden duck and McCulley lasted just a few minutes; the prediction of Tom Riley at the boundary, ‘McCulley won’t be able to resist trying to hit Dave Bridgland out of the ground’ proved all too true!  The final wicket, that of Steve Turner’s brother Pat, was taken by young Adam Ward leaving Latino unbeaten on 3 as the St Joseph’s innings closed on 125 all out.

After the tea break, Hook and Bexfield opened the innings.  Keeley had pondered for some time about the order.  He needn’t have bothered as the two openers played a beautifully measured innings, reaching the required total in 32.3 overs.

From the start, they eased into a somewhat Boycott'esh mode, playing with easy assurance. It was a lesson in opening the innings. Self assured and commanding, bad balls beaten away for runs,  good-uns blocked. Both openers showing a lesson in how to build an innings.

It was not so perfect that they never gave a chance to the field,  Hook was dropped at mid-off and Bexfield at long leg by Martin McCulley who merely parried the ball over the boundary  for a comical 6. Stephen Bexfield reached his 50 first (80 balls, 85 minutes) and from then on pushed back almost every ball to ensure that there were sufficient runs available to enable Hook to score his first half century (102 balls and 115 minutes).  In recent years there has not been such joy in a fifty as this one and the portents are good – there should be many more.  It was particularly pleasing to see him score freely against Tom Reilly - one of the great bowlers in local cricket - with a straight bat and punishing off the bad ball he showed he's a genuine batsman in the making.  Expect to see him opening the batting next season.

Steve himself would have been delighted with the performances of the youngsters on display. Of the 22 players on who took part, most were old, fat and having a blast, But, there were 5 under 16's who took part and all of them played a part in in the game.  Something he would be proud of.

And what of the skipper?  Well, he neither batted nor bowled but his team were victorious on what was a thoroughly pleasant September’s afternoon.  This was a match played in the great tradition of village cricket with some lively banter but none of the ill-tempered and ill-mannered attitudes of recent weeks.  There were children in the bouncy castle and burgers aplenty after the match and it was a fitting occasion to remember Steve Turner, a Gentleman player who loved his cricket.