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Offley & Stopsley, 186-7 Vs Flitwick, 183-8; 23rd May
OSCC Won by 3 wickets
Offley returned to Eversholt with a few sore heads after the previous day’s heroics and just about scraped past Flitwick to make it three wins out of three in the Bedfordshire League. Matthew Freeman produced his best performance for the club and Darren Lunney hit an unbeaten 69 to edge home despite the best efforts of Marc Ward (three drops, two refusals and a duck).
On the hottest day of the year Richie Barker lost the toss for the fourth time in four attempts. Offley were duly asked to field. Freeman and Dhrupal Patel got Offley off to a good start as they shared six consecutive maidens. Freeman made the breakthrough by bowling Bodd for a duck and then trapped Mead lbw. Footer and Bygraves steadied the ship and Bygraves tucked into Wayne Cutts’ juicy offerings. Cutts, a man who looks like he enjoys at least three pies a day, was in generous mood as he served up a tray-full of pies, each one lovingly delivered with a perfumed kiss to the batsman beseeching him to smash it out of the ground. Cutts’ three-over spell cost about 97 and lasted 27 minutes due to the time needed to find the ball in the undergrowth on the other side of the road.
Barker broke the partnership but then did a passable impression of Cutts and ultimately it was left to Freeman and Jon Cerasale to contain Flitwick. Freeman took 3-11 and Cerasale, old faithful, ran in manfully for 10 overs off the reel where he picked up three scalps as Flitwick finished on 183-8. Freeman overcame the heat and his reticence for bowling at the pavilion end to remove the dangerous Bygraves for 75 (previously dropped by Wank Hands Ward on about 9, 25 and 40, to say nothing of the chances where he ran around under the ball like a man stepping off the longest merry-go round ride in history) and was genuinely impressive. Mark Tattersall and Damian Sale both looked to be suffering from heat stroke, Tattersall’s bald head attracting the sun’s rays and Sale’s Freddie Mercury moustache causing his face to overheat.
Darren Lunney and Chris Austin shared a stand of 37 for the opening wicket, both batsmen looking good before Austin sliced a catch to cover. Patel looked ready to end the game in a hurry and flicked five boundaries with minimal effort before flipping a simple chance to cover. 86-1 soon became 88-4 as Marc Ward forgot about his previous day’s heroics and played all round a straight ball. Tattersall blocked his first ball, was dropped off his second and then cleaned up by his third (although apparently it was Lunney’s fault for turning down an easy single when the ball was in orbit).
The plucky Sale – who by this time was coughing away as if he was about to bring up a lung and had turned fire engine red – helped Lunney add 31 for the fifth wicket before he was unluckily caught at leg slip off a full toss. Adam Ward walked to the wicket, was given a long lecture by his batting guru Lunney, and was promptly bowled first ball. It was like watching the Karate Kid have a long chat with his mentor and then having the tar whaled out of him. Offley were 119-6, 65 short of victory and in dire need of a partnership.
Barker responded to the crisis by eschewing conventional batting in favour of slogging, taking aim at the short leg-side boundary and mowing across the line to hit a rapid 30. By the time he fell to a shot that would have embarrassed a blind man with a scythe, Offley were on the brink of victory. Lunney and Cerasale duly guided the team home, Lunney clinching victory with a six as Offley made it three wins out of three before conducting an increasingly desperate search for a pub, a tour that took in two villages and three closed establishments and eventually wound up at the Harvester in Hockliffe – highly recommended.