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Offley & Stopsley CC 221-9 Vs Baldock Town II's 217-9 ; 5th Sept

OSCC Won by 1 Wkt

Link to scorecard

Offley and Stopsley took the division 9 crown in dramatic fashion, as the last wicket pairing of Freeman and Austin guided them to a last over, last wicket win.

After days of self-torture and anguish Steve Bexfields dreams came true, as Skipper Bridgeland won the toss and elected to bowl first. Things didn’t get off to the best start as an out of form Freeman was surprisingly chosen to take the important and tone setting first over. 0.3 balls in and Offley were searching for the ball in a bush for the second time.

Keeley and Brodie took up the challenge of getting the afternoon back on track, and it was Brodie who briefly settled the nerves as he tempted B Gazely into a wild slash which was safely pouched by Austin. Brodie struck again as O’Brien attempted an awful pull shot from a length ball. The Offley players watched on in amusement as the number three  then hurled his bat into the Bush’s.

Big game’s and league title’s often come down to single moment’s important moments, and when Keeley forced Naylor in a ugly swipe, the shot presented a simple catch to Point, unfortunately Darren Lunney spilled the dolly with the batsmen on 3. The batsmen then survived a dubious caught behind, which on review spilt opinions in the Offley bar during the evening. After surviving those two chances, Naylor then proceeded to smash Keeley out of the attack and also tucked in to some slow offerings from Skipper Birdgeland. At Drinks the host where 100-2, which didn’t impress the wedding singer one bit. A certain text read: “f@@@@g do something”

Tattersall and Cerasale bowled from the drinks break to the completion of the innings without causing major problems for the batsmen, whilst sticking to good line’s and lengths. The pair picked up a wicket apiece as Tattersall removed opener Diplock for an under-par 17 shortly after drinks, and Cerasale accounted for Rayat with the last ball of the innings Offley picked up 5 run-outs in the 26 over’s after drinks. This included a good piece of fielding from Chaudry to finally remove Naylor for 97. The host’s amassed 218 from their 53 over’s, and the talk at tea involved a certain drop. Could Offley chase the runs down and rescue Darren from his new deed pole name of Herschelle Lunney?

Bridgeland decided to lead from the front as he opened the reply and the quest for glory with Bexfield. Things got off to a terrible start for Offley as Bexfield was dismissed caught behind for 4, and then proceeded to inflict 44.3 over’s of nervous tension upon the awaiting batsmen and supporters. Brodie played a typical innings and Bridgeland launched a huge six before the wheels feel off, as Brodie drove to mid-off and Tattersall came and went for 0. Lunney strode to the wicket with a determined look and set about digging in. So it was left to Bridgeland to play the aggressive role.

Attempting to keep up with the run rate, Bridgeland attempted one shot too many, as he launched a towering shot towards the mid-off boundary. To the disappointment of the watching players, N Gazely made good ground and gobbled the catch up. When Chaudry departed for 8 just after drinks break, Offley where behind the rate and in trouble, as only 30 points would do!!

Dru Patel joined Lunney at the crease and provided the spark that Offley needed as he plundered 17 runs from an over, with the mood seeming to change after that burst from Patel. He departed an over later for a score of 23, but he had provided the incoming Cerasale a platform to launch an assault from. Assisted by Lunney who turned the strike over and dispatched the odd buffet-ball, Cerasale unleashed some glorious strikes as he plundered a six down the ground and also used his feet well to go inside-out over extra cover for 4, three times in an over, amongst other boundaries. Cerasale brought up his 50 with another well struck boundary through the off-side.

Lunney departed at a crucial time as Offley where entering the last 10 over’s with the rate at 6 per over. He was stumped for 43. Bexfield at this point was unbearable as he paced around and cheered each run. Keeley joined Cerasale at the wicket and the pair added valuable runs in quick time, as Keeley played a relatively sensible innings before he ruined his chance for hero status when he misjudged the fielders arm from deep midwicket and was run out for 10.

With the run-rate still at 6 an over, Freeman and Cerasale joined forces in a bid to drag Offley over the line. The pair picked up numerous sharp singles and well run two’s before Freeman eased the pressure with three boundaries in two over’s, that left Offley a mere three runs short of victory after a glorious pull-shot. After another sharp single, Offley required 2 from 1.1 over’s, and who ever said cricket is boring should have been at Baldock on Saturday, as Cerasale departed caught behind, from the last ball of the over.

Things turned a little tense as Freeman and Austin, (who had never shared a partnership which hadn’t ended in a tragic run-out) came together to get the 2 runs required. Austin was forced to watch from the non-strikes end as the drama unfolded.  With the weight of the 14 people at the ground and George Banks stuck somewhere in Exeter on his shoulders, Freeman took his guard. The first ball was driven firmly down the ground; the bowler stuck out a hand and almost pouched the catch. Next ball a defensive shot was deployed. As the 279th ball of the innings was delivered, the match was finally won as the ball sailed down the leg side for 4 byes. Bexfield was first onto the pitch as he decided to re-create the Jose Mourinho Old Trafford celebration, followed closely by the rest of the team.

Needless to say, champagne was sprayed and plenty of jugs where sunk. A fine effort by the whole team, as Offley chased down the massive target to seal the championship.