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West Herts III 172-9 Vs Offley & Stopsley CC 173-3 - 9th June

OSCC Won by 7 Wkts

Offley maintained the pressure near the top of the Saracens League after registering an emphatic seven-wicket win over West Herts. Mo Chaudry and Steve Hoar both hit half-centuries, Gareth Mathewson marked his first appearance of the season with three wickets and Richie Barker finished with 5-53 as Offley stormed to victory.

Steve Bexfield returned to the scene of his greatest strop and won the toss before deciding to bowl first on what appeared to be an excellent batting wicket. The mood of Bexfield’s troops was hardly improved by the fact that it was the type of steamy day commonly associated with mangroves and swamp donkeys at a venue that offered no showers or running water of any kind. So that was nice.

Rizwan made the early breakthrough when he had Wheeler held at the wicket thanks to a smart catch by Chris Austin. However, Paxton and Khaki gradually began to assert themselves against Rizwan and Nathan Brodie before Bexfield turned to his slow bowlers.

Mathewson immediately dropped into a familiar grove as he returned to the side after an extended spell on the petrol pumps but it was Barker who struck first when Paxton attempted a rather ill-advised pull shot to a straight ball and was promptly sent on his way by Umpire Bigmore for a patient 28. Two overs later Nusly was on his way back second ball after attempting a ridiculous swipe to a straight ball. Patel and Khaki attempted to shore up the innings but Khaki departed when he missed an attempted cut and was bowled to leave West Herts four down at the drinks break.

Barrett made a laboured 8 before miscuing Mathewson to Brodie at extra cover before Patel and Pich threatened to drag West Herts towards a respectable total. Austin missed a sharp chance to account for Patel as he dived forwards before Hoar misjudged an opportunity on the boundary and was sent crashing to the ground as the ball bounced off his chest for four to the disgust of the bowler. Austin atoned for his drop with a smart stumping to remove Patel for 52. Mathewson dropped a sitter off his own bowling but then held a hard chance at mid on to give Barker his five-wicket haul before claiming the last two scalps. Chris Latino capped an excellent display in the field by taking a tumbling catch to dismiss Sturgess before Mathewson cleaned up Nicholls with the final ball of the innings to leave West Herts well short on 172-9.

Hoar and Chaudry opened the innings for Offley and after a circumspect start Hoar began to unfurl some cracking strokes. He raced to his 50 before Chaudry had reached double figures and looked certain to record his second century of the season before edging Nicholls to the keeper for 58. Brodie produced one of his less impressive innings and wasted little time in edging a catch behind before Wayne Cutts strode to the crease.

With Chaudry starting to find his touch Cutts was content to adopt a supporting role, treating a couple of dreadful deliveries with undeserved respect before he played a typically inept paddle sweep shot and was trapped in front as Umpire Bigmore awarded his third LBW verdict of the day.

Bexfield joined Chaudry with the score on 111-3 and began to knock the runs off. Bexfield was granted a life when Paxton failed to hold on a regulation chance at point after the Offley skipper sliced a full toss and West Herts never threatened again. Chaudry completed his half-century before unleashing some ferocious blows and finishing on 72 as Offley eased home by seven wickets to solidify their hold on fourth spot

In the wake of the victory Bexfield’s team returned to base to analyse their performance. Several hours later, during which a somewhat impressive amount of lager was purchased from behind the bar, the troops were happily wrecked and if anyone can remember what was discussed in the later stages of the evening they’re a more sober man than I was. All in all a rather good day.