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Offley & Stopsley, 179-6 Vs St Joseph’s 177-8

OSCC Won by two runs

Mark Tattersall led from the front as Offley scraped home off the last ball. Tattersall got Offley off on the right foot by winning the toss and electing to bat first in a 35-over game. Zayyad fell early for a duck after playing a lazy flick before Mo Chaudry joined Dave Bridgland. Bridgland had apparently prepared for his opening role by studying footage of Chris Tavare’s finest defensive shots and doggedly refused to hit the ball off the square. Chaudry survived a spirited attempt by visiting umpire Pat Turner (last seen at an Offley game in the eye of the storm during the 2003 semi final triumph at Leagrave) to give him out off a bump ball that drew only muted appeals before falling to former Offley trundler Martin McCulley.

Colin Keeley went in at number four and played perhaps his finest innings of the season. Keeley looked a batsman of real promise as he kept the fierce Tom Reilly at bay and played some pleasant shots on both sides of the wicket before offering a searing return catch to Raja. Bridgland fell for 18 and Offley slumped to 93-5 when Phil Gourd attempted a revolting swipe and was bowled.

Gourd’s dismissal produced a blast from the past as former Offley legend Richard Hatfield walked out to bat for his first innings in years. He showed that he had lost none of his touch and flair for batting before being run out in sublimely idiotic circumstances as he allowed an errant return from the fielder to the bowler to hit his stumps and run him out. Tattersall joined Nathan Brodie and the pair added an unbeaten 49 for the seventh wicket. Brodie maintained his fine form of the previous day en route to an unbeaten 46 – despite playing out a maiden in the 31st over of the innings – and Tattersall adopted his customary cavalier approach to lift Offley to a respectable total as Zahid and Arshad were despatched to all parts of the ground.

St Joseph’s made a solid start and had 20 on the board by the time Brodie held on to a sharp chance to send back Raja and give Keeley the breakthrough. However, it looked less promising as Zahid and Omer shared a stand of 59 before Steve Baron made the breakthrough. It was a big moment for Baron and the club as he claimed his first wicket, the initial strike for a graduate of the Colin Keeley Academy for Gifted Cricketers.

It proved a key dismissal as St Joseph’s slumped to 111-5 despite the arrival of Reilly at the crease. Richie Barker trapped Omer plumb in front and then bowled McCulley, the former Offley man falling victim to a rather horrid smear across the line. Ahmed did well to last long enough to make a single before he was nut-megged by a ball that kept low. However Reilly and Steve Turner slowly repaired the damage before Reilly charged Tattersall and was bowled.

Any thoughts that the game was as good as over were swiftly dismissed as Harri launched Tattersall for a huge six (although not as big as Reilly’s telling blow off Gourd) but Tattersall held his nerve to pick up the wicket of Turner. However, the visitors were still alive in the last over and when Tattersall hurled a legside delivery to the boundary for five wides St Joseph’s needed just five off four balls. A dot ball and a wicket followed before Brodie allowed a soft shot to trickle through his legs with a pathetic piece of fielding to leave St Joseph’s requiring four off the last ball. Tattersall produced a telling yorker to restrict the batsmen to a single as Offley edged home by a two run margin.