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Offley & Stopsley CC 185-9 Vs Wormley II's 146-10 ; 4th Sept

OSCC Won by 39 runs

The final match of the league season, a relegation clash, proved to be an eventful occasion and Wormley’s alleged reputation for being ‘an arsey team’ certainly seemed to have some credibility.  In contrast to last week’s match, the pitch was much drier following a small Indian summer during the week before.  Bridgland once again won the toss and also learn a little about the opposition captain who complained that he had stood at the wicket for some time and no-one had come out to toss the coin!  Perhaps it would have helped if he had put on his whites and introduced himself to Offley’s skipper!  Having won the toss, Bridgland elected to bat and after a slight delay, the match got underway.

Bexfield handled the first over well, dispatching 2 deliveries from the opening bowler to the boundary and the scorer began to look forward to pleasant afternoon when the wickets began to tumble.  It should be noted that the scorer does not like the fall of wickets as there is a lot to do in the score book and on this occasion, having forgone a trip to Twickenham to watch the league sponsors, she was trying to listen to their match on the radio.  However, Bexfield was trapped LBW stepping back in front of his stumps, Chaudry and Bridgland were both clean bowled to deliveries that kept low (Offley’s low, slow wicket strikes again) and Lunney was caught by silly mid-on by the tallest man on the pitch (who made Bridgland look short for once) to leave the home team reeling at 18 for 4.  Reece Hannah was particularly menacing in his opening spell, and at the other end the skipper was sending down some very effective medium pace away swingers.  The Wormley team were probably the most vocal of all the teams this season and appealed for almost everything (and nothing) with fielders at square leg and in the deep going up for LBW shouts that they could not have seen without superhero powers!

Ward offered some resistance and stabilised the innings with a knock of 22 off 62 balls but during this time, he had seen Cerasale come and go for 20.  Cerasale looked very assured during his innings and was very disappointed to be adjudged LBW to Kass, bringing Austin to the wicket.  Although Ward was to depart soon after, Austin showed Tavare like resistance to the bowlers and ground out a vital 34 not out.  As Offley’s fortunes improved, Wormley got quieter and quieter.  First Patel and then Keeley played cameo innings to edge the Offley’s total into 3 figures and then Hook arrived at number 10 to match Austin in both patience and doggedness.  Hook played with a maturity well in excess of his young age and punished the bad ball well.  He batted confidently and rode his luck (he was dropped twice during his innings) and received an apology from his captain for putting him at number 10.  Indeed, Bridgland told him that if he was ever put at 10 again, he should remind the skipper of his knock today.  Austin and Hook took the innings passed the important total of 140 earning the first 2 bonus points and then on to 170 to add a further 4 points before Hook was finally out to a third catching opportunity.  Large had to face just one of the last 3 balls of the innings and Offley finished with 185 and the 53 overs used up.

After tea, Bridgland declined the new ball and opened with Patel and himself forcing the batsmen to put the pace onto the ball.  It proved a successful strategy as first M Spinks (the captain’s brother) and Aylott were dismissed by Bridgland bowling out of the sun.  Spinks’ departure from the crease was an ugly affair; he had indulged in a little sledging of Offley’s skipper (‘you bowl like a child’) to which one of the Offley faithful had taken offence.  There was an unpleasant exchange of words and Spinks, not the slightest of figures, advanced upon the offending Offley man, bat in hand and behaving very threateningly.  It was the nadir of an ill-tempered game and the opposition skipper did little to pour oil on troubled waters.  Meanwhile, D. Hannah and his new partner, Jones (a gentleman in the side) began to cut loose and played their shots freely.  Jones should have been caught close to the wicket by Bexfield but the Sunday skipper again found himself wanting.  Bridgland then took the new ball and handed it to the tried and tested pairing of Cerasale and Keeley and between them they accounted for the remaining 8 wickets of the innings.  Cerasale bowled fast and straight, bowling 3 of his 4 wickets and trapping the 4th man LBW and Keeley’s nagging line and length did for the other 4.  The tail threatened to wag when Turnham and Kass were at the wicket for the final partnership; as with most of the Wormley batsmen, Turnham played his shots well, but failed to bat for the team.  The final dismissal of the league season, fittingly, was taken by skipper, running round at long on and holding on to a catch just inside the boundary rope.  It was a great bowling and fielding performance by the team and ensured that Offley will once again play cricket in division 8 next season.  We will be pleased not to have to play Wormley; this defeat condemned them to relegation!