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Offley & Stopsley, 153 all out Vs Southgate Compton, 92 all out

OSCC Won by 61 runs

Matthew Freeman produced an outstanding performance as Offley made it two wins in a row to strengthen their position in the Saracens League.

Offley won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch that offered plenty of incentive for the bowlers. Offley made a solid start before Richie Barker chopped one on to his stumps and Chris Latino edged a catch behind. Dan Jordan joined Steve Bexfield and the pair advanced the score with few alarms until Bexfield’s bat gave up the ghost and he was forced to call for a replacement. Bexfield selected Wayne Cutts’ bat on the reasonable grounds that there were a few runs in it but scored just one more before being adjudged LBW by Chris Austin. The captain’s decision to stand his ground, stare at the sky in disbelief and lob his bat in disgust suggested that he did not entirely agree with the verdict.

Nathan Brodie strode to the wicket determined to bring an end to his poor run of form with the bat but was swiftly defeated by a yorker after failing to open his account. Darren Lunney walked out to join Jordan and the duo took advantage of some tired bowling to leave Offley well placed at the drinks break. However, things began to unravel as Lunney was bowled behind his legs attempting an ugly smear and Jordan fell after compiling a patient half-century as he hammered a full toss to cover. Colin Keeley came and went and Gareth Mathewson fell victim to a fairly horrid swipe to leave Offley eight down and render Bexfield’s plans of an early declaration irrelevant. Austin’s desire for a quick single was cancelled out by Freeman’s reluctance to move and Austin was run out by some way before Freeman shuffled back to be trapped in front by Worth, who finished with 6-32, and end Offley’s resistance at 153 and leave Southgate 52 overs to chase down their target.

Offley started well in the field as Keeley and Jordan took advantage of the old ball to cause problems for the openers. Bexfield shelled a regulation chance in the gulley before Austin held on to a sharp effort off Jordan to claim the first wicket. Keeley got into the act with a slightly fortuitous LBW shout before Jordan claimed the third victim as the hapless batsman misjudged the line and padded up to a delivery that would have hit about halfway up middle stump.

Bexfield opted to make a double change and brought on Barker and Mathewson. A fourth wicket seemed a formality as Barker induced a false shot from Day and the ball lobbed into the air towards Jordan. Tragically Keeley optimistically decided that he was better placed to take the catch and after bawling loudly for the catch he managed to squander the chance. Fortunately the miss was not costly as Barker bowled Day soon afterwards and followed it up by dismissing top-scorer Shah for 27 to leave Southgate rocking with five wickets. Jordan claimed an easy catch off Mathewson to make it six down (Keeley was at least 60 yards away and unable to effect the catch) and Freeman stormed into the attack to claim the seventh wicket.

At that stage there was only one possible winner but Grayson elected to drop anchor after taking advantage of a feeble effort by Wayne Cutts – apparently weighed down by his sizeable belly and defeated by the forces of gravity in his efforts to leave the ground – and proceeded to frustrate the best efforts of the Offley bowlers. Barker attempted a variation of flighted filth but Grayson steadfastly refused to play a shot and the determined batsman declined to attack Freeman. Freeman looked to have secured the victory with two wickets in two balls as he induced Rhodes to play on and then blew through Payton’s defences with a searing yorker that resulted in the batsman trudging off booting his helmet in some disgust.

However, Offley were unable to seal the victory as the final pair of Worth and Grayson frustrated their best efforts. Freeman was unable to break through and Brodie and Mathewson failed to strike. By this stage Bexfield was ready to commit grievous bodily harm upon the strokeless Grayson and there were only five overs remaining when he recalled Barker to the attack. Worth blocked the first two deliveries before attempting to pull the flipper and succeeded only in smearing it towards square leg where Freeman took a sharp catch to clinch a well deserved victory, provoking scenes of jubilation from the fielding side. Bexfield stormed past the unbeaten Grayson, celebrating with the type of fervour generally reserved for footballers who have just bagged a hat trick in the Champions League final while the rest of the Offley outfit headed contentedly towards the bar to enjoy a couple of well deserved drinks.