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Offley & Stopsley CC 173-8 Vs Lilley CC 134 all out - 22nd July

OSCC Won by 39 runs

Offley Retain the Mansfield-Towndrow Trophy!!!

On a day when the sun shone and everything Matthew Freeman touched turned to gold – in contrast with the rest of the summer when it’s rained relentlessly and everything Freeman’s touched has turned to dust – a youthful Offley & Stopsley side produced a fantastic team performance to seal the Mansfield-Towndrow Trophy.

For once Offley’s batsmen came to the party – rather than hiding in the kitchen with a can of special brew and talking to the girl with a wonky eye and spinach in her teeth – and their bowlers made devastating use of the customary cabbage patch at the ground Marc Ward memorably described as Ye Olde Shithole.

Lilley won the toss and elected to bowl, mindful of their chastening experience against Offley last year when they batted first and were drubbed before tea. Mo Chaudry fell cheaply, trapped in front of his stumps and Damian Sale soon followed him back to the pavilion after being undone by a ball that failed to bounce as he expected. That being said, the lack of bounce did not really excuse Sale’s gruesome swipe across the line.

Despite the loss of two early wickets Josh Hook carried on in his rich vein of form as he cracked four boundaries and launched a majestic straight six on his way to 45. Hook looked in no trouble at all until he was brilliantly caught at mid off by a sprawling Taz Qureshi. The fielder’s aerodynamically designed shin-length trousers allowed him to make the catch.

Asif Hussain failed to trouble the scorers but Glen Swain smashed an imperious 35, hitting the ball to all parts before he edged a catch to the keeper. Marc Ward looked in good touch as he played his first game since May but he fell for 12 as he played for turn that did not come and was bowled by the loopy spin of former paceman James Ashby. At that stage Offley were in some trouble on 114-6 but Skippy Freeman hopped out to the crease, heroically ignoring the pain of his injured calf (and making sure that everyone could see he was heroically ignoring the pain of his injured calf) and proceeded to lay about him to great effect.

Freeman went through the pain barrier to hammer a pair of sixes and was given good support by Ryan Chamberlain (9) and Richie Barker (11 not out). Lilley’s bowlers desperately tried to stem the flow of runs as Davis conceded 17 runs in one over and Ashby was reduced to wildly optimistic appeals that suggested he’s been playing too many games against Houghton Town. Freeman perished in the penultimate over for an impressive 36 as Offley closed on 173-8.

Lilley’s reply got off to a bad start when Ashby lobbed Hook down Chaudry’s throat at long off, the batsman shuffling off with the air of a man who knows he has made a grievous miscalculation.

Chaudry soon joined Ashby in the pavilion as he dislocated his thumb dropping a difficult catch off Danny Mills. Offley were forced to soldier on with 10 men, a situation that was hardly new to them and was indeed something of a luxury considering the events of the previous day. Mills and Davis were putting a useful partnership together before Chamberlain capped a fine spell by castling Davis with a ball that locked in on the base of off stump.

Mills and Scanlan joined forces and threatened to craft a decisive partnership that would win the game for Lilley. Mills went for his shots and Scanlan began to find the boundary despite a heroic attempt from the statuesque Freeman to stop the ball by the novel approach of turning his back and jumping out of the way at square leg.

The tide was turning against Offley before Cliff Large rallied the troops with some Churchillian oratory. Stung by bowling two pies that were both smashed for four, Large urged his team to fight on the beaches and in the cabbage patch and the stinging nettles and to never surrender.

Inspired by Large’s inspirational speech, Adam Ward made the crucial breakthrough when he found the edge of Mills’ bat. Sale hurled himself to his right, taking flight like Shamu at Sea World, and knocking the ball up in the air before catching it at the second attempt.

Moments later Dangerous Dan McLaughlin attempted to smash his first ball from Large on to the A505 and succeeded only in slicing it up into the air to allow Sale to make a routine catch look difficult. Large followed it up by having Scanlan caught at short fine leg as Lilley began to implode in time-honoured tradition.

Adam Ward bowled the dangerous Rainey without scoring before McCardle and Qureshi threatened to drag Lilley back into the contest. McCardle hit the first six of his career and Qureshi – dropped by Marc Ward when it seemed far easier to actually catch the ball – began to look ominous.

The young Hussain ended McCardle’s brief cameo and Lilley’s hopes were all but extinguished when Barker struck twice in three balls to remove Collinson and the Lilley lynchpin, Slammin’ Sam Burgess. Mik Carman and Qureshi briefly raised Lilley’s hopes – and let’s face it after Offley’s season no one would have been entirely surprised if they’d added 62 for the last wicket – before Carman miscued Hook to Swain at mid off to end the game.

A jubilant Offley side celebrated their victory, their third of the campaign and their second against Lilley, rejoicing in the knowledge that there will be silverware in the trophy cabinet once again, yet slightly sad in the knowledge that they can’t play Lilley every week.