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Darrell Cooper: Debut: 1998. Retired due to injury 2011
Cooper looked to have played his last game for Offley after his failed attempt to turn himself into an off spin bowler in the wake of a serious hip injury. In truth it was an unedifying attempt akin to Curtley Ambrose trying to turn himself into a leg break bowler or Simon Warrington attempting to mould himself into a batsman.
In a bid to remain effective Cooper flirted with off-spin in 2004. Despite a tremendous performance at Old Warden where he helped Offley to a dramatic victory, the general consensus was that the experiment was not a great success. The propensity of batsmen to smear the cunningly flighted off breaks into nearby fields was part of the reason. In 2005 he returned to his long run up and proved that he is still capable of delivering the odd quick spell and produced the remarkable figures of 8-0-96-3 in the narrow 216-run defeat against Houghton Town and he opted to spend 2006 on the sidelines.
However, Cooper has rebounded as captain of the clubs fledgling second team in 2007 and has committed to the annual tour. While he has not had too many days to celebrate at the helm (as of August 1, 2007, his captaincy record is a staggering played nine lost nine) Cooper has certainly had his moments as a fast bowler.
He was the first bowler at the club to take 200 wickets and his figures of 7-13 against Ampthill in 1998 are the finest individual performance ever by an Offley & Stopsley bowler.
Darrell is one of those delightful batsmen who are happy to come in at number 11 otherwise there is not a great deal that can be said about Coopers batting apart from second hand reports that suggest it has tailed off a little due to lack of practice. His preferred mode is not to have to bat at all but should the situation demand his presence at the crease often as Offleys last and only hope he is willing to apply his famous defensive shot, lunging forward with pad and bat together to play the ball. He hit the first six of his career in 2004, taking advantage of a strong tailwind, heavy bat and short boundary to prompt cheers and shouts of disbelief from his teammates.
Cooper has benefited from the move to Offley more than most by opting to go native and settling down in the village with his wife Karen. In the process the club has gained a groundsman and a tea lady who have both contributed considerably to the well-being of the club. Cooper takes a great deal of pride in his pitches and often seems more concerned that batsmen should flourish on those surfaces against his bowling than about actually getting them out.
Few opponents are churlish enough to decline the hospitality offered by Cooper, often settling in for bed and breakfast before helping themselves to a nice, juicy pie.