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Offley & Stopsley CC 256-7 Vs Luton Town & Indians III's 220-7 ; 5th June
Offley were forced to settle for a draw at Lancaster Avenue as their depleted bowling resources were unable to dismiss the hosts. However, they still finished with a creditable 17 points and moved up to second place in the table.
Acting skipper Steve Bexfield lost the toss and then lost his off stump as Offley were reduced to 0-1 after being put in. Mo Chaudry provided brief resistance before Nathan Brodie and a mysterious stranger who looked a bit like former player Steve Hoar added 61 for the third wicket. However, both fell in quick succession, Hoar (38) to a ball that didn’t get up and Brodie (35) who succeeded in edging a delivery that would have almost certainly been called a wide if he had left it alone.
Darren Lunney and Richie Barker salvaged the situation with a stand of 139 for the fifth wicket. Both players engaged in a game of chicken with the slip fielders as they repeatedly looked to work the ball through third man. Lunney reached his half-century and Barker ran three threes (never again) before completing his 50. Barker holed out in the deep before Symon Wardley and Matt Freeman gave their wickets for the cause as they slogged and perished. Chris Austin added a brisk unbeaten 12 and the watchful Lunney ensured he was there at the end on 65 not out as Offley closed on 256-7.
In the absence of many other alternatives Barker and Lunney were asked to open the bowling. Both were, in all honesty, a bit crap. However, Bexfield persevered with them and Offley finally made the breakthrough when Barker, fed up of being cracked through cover for 4, switched to seam and served up a double bouncer that skimmed beneath Bonham’s bat and kissed the base of off stump.
Barker picked up another wicket when an awful delivery down the leg side ended up in Austin’s glove via the back of the bat. Freeman came to the party when he bounced out Raja with the aid of a fine catch from Hoar. Marc Ward produced a fine piece of fielding to run out Ishaq and Barker claimed a third wicket to leave the game in the balance.
Harry Lovell gave Offley a real chance when he capped a fine spell by removing the dangerous Trivedi for 61 with the aid of an excellent catch from Wardley. Freeman picked up another wicket but after that the hosts held on to secure a draw.