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Offley & Stopsley CC 129-9 VS Codicote 152-9 - 29th Oct
OSCC Lost by 23 runs
Offley and Stopsley crashed to a dramatic defeat against Codicote thanks to one of the more ignominious batting collapses in club history.
Chasing 153 to win, Offley were cruising to victory at 117-2 before slumping to 130 all out due to some breathless, brainless batting and some indescribably inept running between the wickets as Matthew Freeman claimed centre stage.
The match was a 10-aside affair with Offley skipper Steve Bexfield agreeing to play for the opposition but only after he had cunningly allowed the visitors first use of a wicket that seemed certain to deteriorate as the afternoon wore on.
Codicote made a good start before Darren Lunney induced an edge in his first over and Chris Austin held a fine catch standing up. That united the Richards father and son combination in the middle and they began to inflict some fearful damage on the Offley attack. Carl Richards deposited one Lunney offering on to the roof of the pavilion and Luke Richards set a Codicote record for runs in a season as he extracted some fearful punishment on youngster Mark Ward. However, Ward held his nerve and sent the elder Richards on his way thanks to a smart legside stumping from Austin.
Richie Barker set a new Offley record when he removed the younger Richards for 61, bowling him with a ball that might have pitched a foot outside leg stump had it not collided with the batsmans pad and proceeded to role through his legs and hit off stump. The wicket was Barkers 71st of the season and took him past Darrell Cooper. Lunney picked up his second wicket with a ball that didnt bounce much before Bexfield ran out partner McQueen for no score.
Jeff Francis struck immediately to remove Biggs before Bexfields nervous, tortured innings finally came to an end when he failed to get to the pitch of a fizzing delivery from Barker and picked out Nathan Brodie near the boundary. Barker picked up his third wicket before Freeman wrapped up the innings with a perfect yorker to account for a small child to dismiss Codicote for 152.
Barker and Steve Hoar opened the innings for Offley with Hoar making his first appearance since recovering from a broken wrist. The pair coped well with a slow wicket and put on 65 before Barker mistimed a shot off his legs and was well caught at mid on. However, Chris Latino joined Hoar and the runs continued to flow. Hoar brought up his half-century and began to unfurl some high class shots before chipping a soft return catch to the bowler.
Latino and Brodie took the score to 117 before the wheels fell off with Latino departing to a typically soft shot against a slow bowler. Brodie and Lunney then struggled to generate any momentum as Luke Richards was introduced into the attack and it was no surprise when Brodie was bowled for the 19th time in 2007.
Lunney and Freeman dropped anchor as the rate began to rise before Lunney departed after missing a wild swish at Richards and made the long walk back after compiling a fairly dismal three runs during an innings when he appeared to forget all the progress he had made during an impressive season.
With the game firmly in the balance and Freeman unable to get off the mark and seemingly unwilling to jeopardise his average by trying to hit the ball off the square, Offley looked for a hero and discovered the figure of Austin marching out to bat. Moments later he was walking back after inexplicably failing to turn down Freemans kamikaze call and paying the price as he was run out without facing. Francis strode to the wicket and made a mockery of what had gone before by punching his first ball towards the long off boundary for an easy two. However, a combination of Freemans ball-watching, lack of pace and anxiety-induced gormlessness resulted in a full blown cock-up and ended with Francis being run out by about six yards.
Gary Chamberlain walked out and watched as Freeman played back a couple of dot balls that left Offley needing 25 off four overs. Chamberlain played out a maiden before Freeman finally got off the mark with a couple but also did a good job of ensuring that no run came off the other five balls. At this stage Freeman (aged 22, experience five seasons) wandered down the wicket and informed Chamberlain that with 23 needed from two overs he would have to get at least six runs from the penultimate over so Freeman could knock off the final 17 runs off the last six balls.Chamberlain duly swung and was bowled for a duck. Last man Ward went out to bat, passing on instructions from the pavilion (Matty, youre a c**t, apparently.) and was subsequently cleaned up first ball as Offley slumped to a 22-run defeat.Freeman finished unbeaten on 2 from 35 balls and the final seven batsmen combined for seven scoring shots as Offley produced one of the all-time great collapses, a performance that Freeman subsequently described as a series of unfortunate events.