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Offley & Stopsley CC 167-7 V Holtwhite Trinibis 167-7 ; 26th Sept
Offley scrambled a tie off the final ball to escape with a share of the spoils against Holtwhites Trinibis. Steve Bexfield and Matthew Freeman shared an unbroken stand of 44 for the eighth wicket as Offley scraped a deserved tie.
With half of the home team stuck in traffic Bexfield elected to field first. Nathan Brodie struck with just his second ball of the match, removing Bonner with the aid of a good catch from Mo Chaudry as the batsman unwisely attempted to clear mid on.
Freeman got in on the act when he removed the older Bonner, beating him all ends up with a ball that moved and cut back before striking off stump, a delivery that was probably Freeman’s best of the season.
The Chaudry-Brodie axis struck again to dismiss Hassan before Hewitt and Younis took the attack to the bowlers. Younis played some excellent shots and looked set for a big score before miscuing to cover off Chaudry where Brodie returned the compliment and took an excellent one-handed catch.
Hewitt and Elech briefly threatened to smash the spinners out of the attack but after Gary Chamberlain took an excellent catch standing up off Richie Barker to dismiss Elech, Hewitt and Bacchus opted to consolidate and ensure that Holtwhites batted out their overs. It did not make for the most electrifying cricket as Barker and Darren Lunney bowled 16 overs for just 48 runs but it did allow Offley to haul themselves back into the game.
Freeman and Marc Ward both picked up wickets in the closing overs. Freeman bowled Hewitt as the batsman attempted an ugly smear while Ward claimed his first wicket in September when he bowled Robinson. Offley donated 37 extras to the cause as Holtwhites closed on 162-7.
Lunney and Chaudry opened the batting with Lunney looking in good touch as his first three scoring shots found the boundary. At the other end Chaudry was struggling with the bouncy pitch and eventually edged a catch to a packed slip cordon.
Colin Keeley marched out to bat at number three. He was soon off the mark, squirting a thick inside edge through his legs into the vacant legside. Keeley chugged down the wicket for the first run, a battleship that has seen better days, reminiscent in many ways of Turner’s painting of The Fighting Temeraire on its way to its final berth to be broken up (“Now the evening breezes shiver / As she’s floating down the river / But in England’s song forever / She’s the Fighting Temeraire).
Heroically the gallant Keeley elected to try and come back for a second run. It was not the wisest decision but the noble Keeley put his head down and charged for home. He never made it. Halfway down the track a crack rang out (A snapping tendon? A rogue sniper?) and Keeley crumpled in a heap, helplessly short of his ground as the bails were whipped off and the batsman saw his 2009 season come to a tame conclusion.
Barker and Lunney joined forces and were soon locked in a desperate battle to resist the wily Robinson, the man whose previous figures against Offley were 14-9-11-6. With runs at a premium, Lunney and Barker kept Offley in touch with the scoring rate, sharing a 50 partnership and taking the score past 100. Barker scored his 1000th run of the season before miscuing a hack to square leg in the fading light to leave Offley on 106-3.
Brodie tried and died for the cause before Chamberlain struck two boundaries only to depart in familiar fashion as he aimed across the line and was bowled. Freeman, due in at number eight, waddled into view without his pads and was duly replaced in the line-up by Lovell. Lovell failed to trouble the scorers and Offley were on the ropes at 123-7.
However, Freeman and Bexfield rode their luck and dragged Offley back from the brink. Running hard between the wickets and hitting the odd boundary they kept Offley up with the rate. Freeman survived a ridiculously easy chance to cover – he was not a million miles from being run out after having to stop in the process of walking off – and was also dropped off a simple caught and bowled chance.
Offley needed 15 off the final over and seized their chance when youngster Bagley was brought on for his first bowl of the day. A couple of wides and a Freeman boundary looked to have given Offley the momentum and it came down to whether or not Bexfield could strike a boundary – or improbably Freeman could run three – off the final bowl to snatch a tie.
In the event they settled for two, Bexfield, the white Usain Bolt haring back for a second run as the fielder weighed up the odds and tried to decide whether to try and run out the young fat one or the old slow one. Bexfield narrowly made his ground and the teams shared the spoils in an exciting finale to cap an entertaining day’s play.