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Offley & Stopsley CC 73-3 Vs Sandridge II's ; 18th July
OSCC Won by 7 Wkts
Offley kept up the pressure at the top of the Saracens League by destroying Sandridge by seven wickets. On a day when all the teams at the top won, Offley made no mistake in blowing the strugglers out of the water. Marc Ward reduced the visitors to 14-4 with a superb display of swing bowling and Matthew Freeman and Richie Barker both picked up three wickets.
Sandridge won the toss and elected to bat first on a damp track. They were quickly all at sea after Freeman struck in the opening over, removing Davies with a fine delivery that may have held up in the pitch slightly but still comprehensively beat the batsman’s defensive shot. Moments later the visitors were reeling on 2-2 when Allan aimed an outrageously awful pull shot at a ball from Ward that pitched on a good length and was duly bowled.
Camm and Shepherd organised a recovery of sorts as they put on 12 runs for the third wicket before Ward struck twice in his fifth over. After producing some prodigious swinging deliveries, the bowler castled Shepherd with a big in-swinger that smashed into the stumps. Reynolds promptly offered a simple return catch and Sandridge were gone for all money on 14-4.
A defiant fifth wicket partnership added nine runs before Freeman bowled Shepherd without scoring. Winton feathered a simple catch to wicketkeeper Darren Lunney to make it 31-6 at the end of the 15th over.
Camm and Naveen dug in to stage the biggest stand of the day, a 33-run affair that lasted 12 overs. Naveen went for his shots, swinging and occasionally connecting at Barker and Jon Cerasale while Camm looked to play the anchor role. The pair dug in resolutely until the drinks break, lifting the total to 64-6. However, Camm reacted to his glass of orange juice by launching an optimistic drive at Cerasale and could only succeed in lifting a simple catch to Chris Latino at mid off where the fielder made no mistake.
Barker got in on the act when he served up a really rotten legside full toss that Panting generously decided to smash into his off stump to give the bowler a fairly undeserved wicket. Naveen departed for a top score of 23, hopelessly beaten in the flight by Barker. The fizzing delivery gripped and ripped and shattered the bail, driving it backwards into the keeper’s face, thereby earning Barker the nickname of, “The Man who put the Scar on Lunney’s Forehead”.
Three balls later it was all over when Prakash was bowled aiming a wild shot at Barker, one intended to smash the ball into Stopsley and a stroke that conveyed images of banjos and cows arses. The umpire was not impressed, passing the interesting comment of, “Jesus, Godfathers,” as the batsman had his stumps rearranged.
Offley were left to score 72 runs for victory at a rate of 1.09 runs per over. Skipper Nathan Brodie put Offley up with the rate when he took a single off the first ball but there was controversy after the second delivery after Umpire Freeman’s apparent refusal to give Latino a guard, an incident that contributed to the batsman being bowled first ball.
Steve Hoar joined Brodie and the pair put on 24 with no real dangers. Brodie hit successive boundaries off Prakash but fell to the next delivery when the ball appeared to hold up in the surface and bowled him.
Saracens Batting Champion-elect Lunney marched out to join Hoar and seemed set to record another not out as he moved serenely to 17. However, Perrin struck him on the boot and with the ball certainly not set to go over the top, the only question was whether or not the batsman had been hit on the full or the half-full. Umpire Freeman considered the merits of the appeal for a nanosecond or an eternity (it depends on one’s point of view) before finding in the bowler’s favour and sending a chastened Lunney back to the hutch.
Symon Wardley smashed a boundary before Hoar brought the curtain down on proceedings by lofting a towering straight six. The ball was lost as the result of the impressive blow, an incident which was regarded in some quarters as a tragedy for club funds on a par with the collapse of Barings Bank. The hapless Umpire Freeman also found himself in the dock for this minor dereliction of duty which may have been a touch harsh. After all, in his own words, “I played well.”
Not the most exciting of games but the end result was what mattered and Offley kept their promotion hopes alive with a strong all-round effort that leaves them in second spot with seven games to play.