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Offley & Stopsley 155-10 Vs Chipperfield Clarnedon 216-7 ; 21st Aug

OSCC Lost by 61 runs

Offley and Stopsley’s progress in the Saracens Cricket League division 8 suffered another setback on Saturday when the team faced Chipperfield Clarendon III at home, which leaves the team battling for survival in the division.  , Offley’s fortunes mirrored the changeable weather with rain, grey skies and occasional sunny spells but mainly a depression moving across the ground!

The match began as usual with the skipper losing the toss!  In fact, to his knowledge he has won just three this season and mutterings of double sided coins and it being pointless going out to toss the coin were heard as he returned to inform the team that the opposition skipper had elected to bat.  Chipperfield Clarendon III are still in the running for promotion this season and had lead the league for a number of weeks earlier on but had run into a patch of poor form over the last 5 matches.  This gave Offley some hope.

The teams took the field before 1 o’clock and were about to begin when a photographer (slim, blonde and female) immediately attracted the attention of the team! A photo of the team was required by the local paper (Luton News and Herald) and she had been dispatched to take it.  The 10 man team assembled for the photo; C. Large missing out on this opportunity for his 15 minutes of fame (in toilet, having a dump!).  The game still started a little early, although it would be hard to tell this from the pavilion clock which is on its own time zone, and Bernie was now walking, not mincing!

The opening pair for Chipperfield made a slow start with both Brodie and Niven bowling well and passing the edge on many occasions without success.  Gorham(the slower of the two scorers) hit Niven to extra cover where it was surprisingly dropped by Darren Lunney.  The ball then seemed to follow Lunney as he spilled another, this time the more prolific scoring Jansen off the bowling of Bridgland; this was a costly drop as Jansen went on to score 18 runs off Bridgland’s next over.  The skipper was not amused.

The partnership was eventually broken by a surprisingly brilliant run out by keeper Austin who ran round to square leg, picked up the ball and on the turn threw down the stumps with a direct hit.  The most astonished player was Chris himself. As so often happens, once the partnership was broken, the other opener did not tarry long at the wicket as the skipper dislodged Jansen who played on to a delivery that turned in the drizzle.  He was trying to be greedy following his 50 off 65 balls in 66 minutes and paid the price.

Cliff Large rolled back the years with a 6 over spell in which he took two wickets for 23 runs.  At the other end, Dhrupel Patel, bowling a spell of 16 overs narrowly missed out on early success when Burfoot chopped a ball down which unbelievably missed the stumps.  The Chipperfield middle order continued to bat confidently although they were becalmed for a while when Fitzgerald and Veith came together for the 5th wicket partnership.  Fitzgerald struggled to get the ball off the square and there was a certain sense of disappointment when he was run out by a sharp piece of fielding from Niven who whistled the ball back to Austin when the batsmen attempted to take a second run off the bowling of Patel. The final pair took Chipperfield past the 200 mark and another dropped catch, this time by Marc Ward, enabled them to post a score of 216.

The team’s returned to the pavilion to find that tea had not yet arrived so there was a brief hiatus and then Offley and Stopsley began their innings.  Austin and Chaudry opened and Austin quickly departed having surprisingly been bowled round his legs; the quick turnaround taking its toll.  Ward followed soon afterwards playing a bad shot across the line to Wheeler, and Brodie did not last much longer departing in similar fashion.  Meanwhile, Mo was looking much more assured at the crease and building a steady innings.  Lunney joined him at the wicket and they built a partnership of 30 although this was littered with dropped catches, all off the bat of Lunney who ended in credit on the dropped catches (he dropped 2 but was dropped 3 times).  Chaudry departed to an excellent catch at mid-off, driving positively.  It was good to see his return to form, and Lunney’s luck finally ran out as he was caught at extra cover by Hillman.  Hook played a pleasing innings, with a straight bat and 3 well timed 4s before succumbing to the ‘bowling’ of O’Mara whose delivery action looked very suspect from the boundary and from the stumps.  Hum hit one glorious 4 before being gloriously bowled, bringing the skipper to the wicket with the bat with the extra inch!  This has not had an outing for a while, but served him well as he hit a quick 23 before being caught at slip driving at a ball which edge off the bottom inch!  The last few batsmen did not stay for long, but Bernie managed to hit a 2 off the bowling of Wheeler to take Offley and Stopsley to 4 batting points as they succumbed to defeat.

It was a disappointing performance with too many players making a start and not building on early success, and others playing injudicious shots across the line.  There is work to do on the batting and catching.  It leaves Offley and Stopsley staring down the barrel of relegation and a win is essential in the last two matches, one of which is against the side currently top of the division.