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Offley & Stopsley II's 202 -9 Vs Codicote II's 132 -2 ; 22nd  June

OSCC Won by 70 runs

After a filthy day of weather the previous day which claimed another fixture, it was delightful to be playing cricket on a warm day at Offley, albeit a tad windy. Offley looked rather strong on paper, with 6 out-an-out first teamers playing, of which included Martin Mcculley starting for Offley as a squad player rather than a bowling refugee and Colin ‘I’ll never play second team’ Keeley. Steve “the beer bandit” Baron forgot he was playing cricket, how rock and roll!! Luckily for Offley the visitors turned up with 12, so Offley got the very enthusiastic Oliver Long as their 11th man.

Skipper Bexfield won the toss, and due to a relatively strong batting line-up decided to bat, this was in order to give people a chance to score their first 50’s for the club, that’s where the jack-a-nory ended!!

Offley got off to a horror show of a start as Latino was sent packing for 0, clean bowled by Artley, to extend his lead in the duck-watch league. In the very next over Dathan was run-out for 0, as he paid the price for not backing-up, Austin perhaps at fault for trying to run a quick single with a developing batsmen. Ward came in at number 4, and to be brutal, swung at everything, acquiring two fours in the process, before being caught at mid-off, leaving Offley 11 for 3. Hopefully over the course of the season Ward can show the kind of improvement with the bat, as he has with the ball. After blocking out a few maidens things turned bleaker when Austin guided a very wide ball to Gulley to be out for 2, OSCC were down in the dumps at 15-4.

This allowed the potentially explosive partnership of Keeley and MCculley to join forces, and Keeley didn’t disappoint, as he crashed Artley for 24 in the space of 10 Balls, taking him almost halfway to that 50 mark. The partnership was broken shortly after that burst from Keeley, as Mcculley carved a tame catch to Gulley for 5, meaning that Offley where now 43-5. This left Skipper Bexfield with no choice, so he donned his pads to bat at number 7.

The pair set about giving Offley’s contingent of young bowlers a target to bowl at, as Bexfield played his usually careful game, whilst Keeley mixed defence with attack and also did his best to entertain the crowd with his running between the wickets. On one such occasion Keeley was on his arse halfway down the wicket, as Bexfield remained in his crease, fortunately he scampered home.

After lifting the score to 91, and his personal tally to 48, Keeley smacked a long hop to extra-cover to fall two short of his 50, it was a fine effort and the second team will hope to see more of Keeley’s batting prowess through-out the season. The wicket brought the excited Long to the crease, and after being struck on the inside thigh first ball, he was sent on his way for 0 two balls later to leave Offley 91-7 and looking to the skipper to guide the team to a respectable score of at least 150. Page came in at number 9, and made two more than he thought he would, before lofting a catch up in the air. At 93-10 Offley had Gourd at the wicket and Freeman left in the hutch, so getting at least 57 runs from the17 over’s remaining seemed more than do-able at this point.

The pair added 50 for the 9 wicket, with Gourd scoring 8 of them, as Bexfield suddenly went for park to drive, as he took advantage of some buffet offerings, with some of the bowlers dropping a-little on the short side. When Gourd departed for 8, the scoreboard read a more healthy 143-9, and left the combination of Freeman and Bexfield 7.4 over’s to score as many as they could.

After compiling a couple of singles, the youthful wicket keeper behind the stumps produced the comment of the day when he exclaimed to Freeman: “you’re the best number 11 I have ever seen”. Well, Freeman and Bexfield did break the 10th wicket record partnership, as they scored 60 runs in the final 7.4 over’s to propel Offley up-to 203-9 from their 40 over’s. Bexfield scored a four from the last ball of the innings to take him to 101 not out, and Freeman finishing with a run-a-ball 12 not out.

A hefty total of 203 consigned Keeley and Freeman too specialist fielders for the rest of the afternoon, and excluding McCulley, It was left to the rest of the team to gain some bowling experience. McCulley opened the bowling from the football ground end, and bowled his usual tight lines. His was rewarded with the first wicket of the innings when G Chandler went back, and the ball kept a little low to clean bowl the batsmen. Ward bowled well from the other end, constantly making the batsmen play at balls they didn’t want too, and was unlucky not to take a wicket in his 5 over’s. McCulley finished with stand-out figures of 8-6-5-1, but there is no doubt that harder challenges lie head for the ickleford exile.

Lone player Long replaced Ward, and mixed good balls with dross, as he worked his way through 5 over’s for the cost of 39 runs. Dathan replaced McCulley and picked up the only other wicket to fall in the innings, as he bowled Hockaday. Rossdale and Day batted through for the rest of the innings, as the young Rossdale made a well compiled 69 from 40 over’s. Latino, Page and Gourd all got a chance to bowl 5 or more over spells, each of them bowling well, but the batsmen seemed happy just to bat with out taking any chances.

A good day’s cricket for all, with everyone in the Offley team getting a go, and everyone applying themselves in the field if maybe not with the bat. It was nice to play a pleasant and friendly team, and by the looks of it some of the younger players in the Codicote team given another year, may prove more of a handful next season.