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Offley & Stopsley CC Vs St Margeretsbury

OSCC Won by 8 Wkts

Offley stormed to the top of the Saracens League – top of Division 11 at any rate – as they hammered St Margaretsbury in some style. Mo Chaudry cracked 92 in rapid time as Offley eased to a target of 150 with 19 overs to spare to seal an eight-wicket win.

The visitors won the toss and elected to bat, condemning Steve Bexfield’s team to another afternoon in the field on a hot day. The opening batsmen began in circumspect fashion, perhaps aware that their side’s fate rested heavily on their ability to get off to a good start. Colin Keeley and Qumar took the new ball but despite maintaining an impressive line and length they were unable to make the breakthrough. The closest either bowler came to a wicket came when Keeley misjudged a return catch from Daniels and grassed the opportunity.

Shortly after that tempers began to boil as Matthew Freeman and Nathan Brodie had a firm and frank exchange of views. The reason for the dispute was unclear – one imagines it had something to do with Freeman championing the artistic style of Rembrandt, only for Brodie to forcibly insist that Gauguin was the true genius. However, it almost led to blows and one can only imagine what might have happened if the pink-short wearing Brodie had come to grips with the McCoy-munching Freeman. Fortunately sanity was soon restored and the game continued. Freeman entered the attack and channelled his aggression in a more useful direction but was unable to make the breakthrough. Dan Jordan replaced Keeley at the other end and it quickly appeared as if his exertions in Belgium had taken their toll as he served up an opening over of unmitigated dross that yielded three boundaries. However, Jordan soon settled down and made the initial breakthrough when Kitteringham spooned a catch to Darren Lunney at mid off to leave St Margaretsbury on 72-1 at drinks.

After the interval Richie Barker replaced Freeman and soon sent Mulligan on his way, bowling him with a well flighted delivery. Daniels was trapped in front for a duck before Jordan claimed the key wicket of Daniels senior for 63. The batsman advanced down the track and aimed to hit Jordan over long on but failed to clear the ropes as Lunney held a superbly judged catch. Things began to unravel for the visitors as Barker bowled the portly Sharp for a single and Spencer was run out after a fine throw from Brodie. Jordan scythed through the tail to claim a five-wicket haul before Barker wrapped up the innings as Keeley held on to a low chance at cover to leave Offley needing 150 to win.

Bexfield and Chaudry opened the batting and shared a stand of 73 to put the issue beyond doubt. Chaudry continued from where he left off in the destruction of Steppingley while Bexfield was content to play a supporting role and play himself back into form. The fielding side were not the most agile or youthful ever to take the field at Offley and the batsmen took advantage of gaps in the field and a lack of pace and dexterity that made Freeman look like Jonty Rhodes.

Bexfield finally fell for 15 when he played a slightly careless shot and flicked Sharp to fine leg. Lunney walked out to join Chaudry with the geordie genius aiming to rediscover his touch. Chaudry maintained his assault on a second century in consecutive innings while Lunney was content to prod around, allowing the ball to hit his bat and pick up the extras as and when they became available. He eventually finished unbeaten on six. Chaudry’s ability to hit the ball with impressive power proved disconcerting for the visitors and he was well placed to reach his century before aiming an ugly hack at Sharp to be comprehensively bowled for 92. Jordan came in to make short work of the total, ending proceedings with a mighty six to carry Offley & Stopsley to the top of the table.