OSCC Won by 4 Wkts
Offley picked up maximum points for the second week running as they overcame a dogged Kings Langley side with four wickets to spare in a game marred by controversy and in-fighting.
Steve Bexfield won the toss and had no hesitation in asking Kings Langley to bat first. The remaining 10 Offley players seemed somewhat less enthusiastic about the prospect of fielding first on the hottest day of the year but they duly followed their captain out to the middle with Qumar and Matthew Freeman taking the new ball.
Freeman opened up with two deliveries that could charitably be described as dreadful while Qumar was quick to find his rhythm. Freeman gradually gained some control and bowled one of his better spells of the season without really looking like picking up a wicket, or in fairness, conceding a surfeit of wides, although his final analysis of 8-4-14-0 would have been better if he had not sent one delivery hurtling to the boundary through a rapidly vacated first slip area.
Qumar made the breakthrough when he bowled Marshall shouldering arms and then had a series of LBW shouts rejected by an impassive Umpire Bigmore. Qumar stoically accepted each rejection with a rueful smile. Saunders and the strokeless Voisey built a useful platform before things got slightly heated. Freeman became embroiled in the latest of a series of unfortunate incidents, although this was the first time hed had a ball thrown at his head by an irate team-mate on account of his gormless wittering. Fortunately for all concerned Nathan Brodies throw was wide of the mark and after a brief interlude some level of decorum was restored with Chris Austin deserving credit for selflessly throwing himself into the thick of the fray and defusing the situation.
Freeman partially atoned by contributing to the run out of Voisey as he deflected a wayward throw to Bexfield and the captain in turn relayed the ball to Austin who removed the bails. Shortly afterwards Austin was in the wars after a wayward Rizwan delivery crushed him on the toe. Despite wearing big padded gloves he failed to get anything in the way and was left with a throbbing toe. He did not respond well to the suggestion that he should try and let the ball melt into his gloves and petulantly invited one of his colleagues to go and f*ck yourself.
Brodie settled into a good spell as he dispelled the rustiness from early in the season. He finished with three wickets and might have had more if he had held on to a relatively sharp return catch (albeit one that he deflected on to the stumps to run out the non striker) and Qumar had managed to hold on to a chance that, frankly, was easy. Wayne Cutts showed the way as he steadied himself under a steepling catch, apparently soiling himself in terror, before holding on to the chance. Brodie finished with 3-51 and accounted for Saunders, the mainstay of the innings, with a cunningly disguised slower ball.
Qumar redeemed himself in the field with a splendid stop with his kneecap, brilliantly deflecting the ball from short fine leg to point, and Austin picked up a couple of key stumpings as Richie Barker worked his way through the tail, picking up the final wicket with the last ball to finish with 4-32. Kings Langley closed on 152 from 53 overs, scoring their runs at the thrilling rate of 2.86 per over before ironically accusing Bexfields teams of bowling their overs too slowly and claiming they would be denied bonus points for their alleged tardiness.
That left Offley with little choice but to go out to win the game and Barker and Mo Chaudry rattled up 53 in 11 overs before the wheels fell off. After hammering the seamers with some aplomb Barker promptly missed his first ball from spinner Saunders and departed for a season-best 24. Chaudry went for 25 after missing a turning delivery and Brodie chipped a simple return catch to Saunders for just 2. Chris Latino came and went for 4 before Bexfield and Darren Lunney dug in.
Bexfield survived a strong appeal for caught behind when he appeared to deflect the ball off the back of the bat and into the ozone layer before the keeper held the catch. However, he stood his ground and the unsighted Umpire Chaudry turned down the appeal to howls of anguish from the visitors. Unfortunately Bexfield failed to make the most of possible good fortune and was soon on his way for 12, trapped plumb in front as he failed to move his feet and shuffled in front of his stumps, leaving the game very much in the balance at 96-5.
However, Lunney and Austin rose to the occasion and shared a priceless 54-run stand. Lunney batted with aggression and composure and was quick to dispatch the bad ball although he may have been slightly fortunate to be reprieved by the Umpire following a strong shout for leg before. Austin was less fortunate and was adjudged LBW by the same official for 14 although he later suggested that he had hit the ball with his bat and not his toe. Yet the state of his purpling swollen toe suggested he had been hit flush by the ball to render his complaints unjustified. However, Austin had done his job with one of his most valuable innings for the club and Qumar finished things off with a couple of lusty blows while Lunney finished unbeaten on a defiant 31 to maintain his impressive start to the season.
The victory lifted Offley to fourth place in the table ahead of a three-game road trip to some delightful parts of Hertfordshire. Despite the victory a number of issues remain to be addressed notably player discipline and the do's and donts of etiquette and throwing the ball at each other in polite society.