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Offley & Stopsley 179-4 Vs Cockfosters III's 177 all out; 30th July

OSCC Won by 6 Wkts

Offley and Stopsley eased their way past Stevenage to sit at the top of division 8 of the Saracens League with an ill-tempered win against Cockfosters.  The match, played at Cockfosters second, and somewhat small pitch, otherwise known as the small pitch at Holtwhites Trinibus, started well as Captain Brodie won the toss and elected to field.  This looked like a good decision as Offley had a strong bowling attack with Freeman, Ward, Tattersall and Brodie all able to take the new ball, and this proved to be the case for the first 7 overs when the batsmen were restricted to just 17 runs.

Mattie Freeman opened the attack and bowled a good first over apart from one ball which Xavier dispatched with some relish to the boundary for  a straight 6 which clattered into the sightscreen about half-way up.  Freeman had his revenge in the third over as Xavier, who did not score another run in his 10 balls faced, was neatly caught by Lunney and sent on his way.  This brought Knight (known as Jedi to the opposition) to the crease and started an onslaught on the seam bowlers which threatened to take the match away from Offley.  Between them, the second wicket partnership put on 121 runs in 26 overs, and although Knight was dropped at the wicket and both batsmen played and missed on numerous occasions, there were 4s all around the ground and the score kept ticking along at about 5 an over.  Certainly the Cockfosters’ batsmen at the boundary thought they were set for a big total.

The breakthrough came when Tattersall, who had taken a pasting bowling seam-up, switched to leg-spin.  He was getting a prodigious amount of turn and his first over of spin went for just 4.  His second, a maiden, claimed the wicket of Clune and persuaded Brodie to bring on his other slow-bowling weapon, as he switched himself for Bridgland and his ballooning off-spin.  From this point on, the match turned dramatically in Offley’s favour; Tattersall bowling Knight for 60, and the remainder of the batsmen contributing only 37 runs between them.  It would have been even fewer, but for a couple of dropped catches, one by Adam Ward at mid-on off Tattersall (for which he was roundly abused by his skipper) and the other by Brodie at first slip off Bridgland (they call it irony!).  Cooper was the only batman to show any resistance as he battled manfully for his 11 off 34 balls, only to be bowled by Tattersall.  The combination of the turning ball from Tatts and loopy, flighted ball from Bridgland undid the Cockfosters’ players, who were frankly bamboozled into giving up their wickets.  Certainly the change in fortunes quietened Teale, who had sat in the scorers’ box for most of the innings chattering inanely, and when Knight took over, he remarked that it was surprising that the ball didn’t come down with snow on, such was the altitude it was reaching from Bridgland’s bowling!

The innings closed after just 42 overs and the 177 posted looked nowhere near enough on a small pitch with a fast outfield.  Tattersall finished with 5 for 67 although his spell of legspin returned figures of 5 for 30 whilst Bridgland had 4 for 19 (“I could have had 5 for 17 if the catch had been held”) and with that should have passed 200 wickets for Offley and Stopsley.  There had been a lot of ‘chatter’ throughout the first innings, most of it Offley players abusing each other; that was about the change!

Offley’s reply opened with Bexfield and Hook, two in-form batsmen, and the old ball which had not an ounce of shine and very little leather left on it.  The Cockfosters’ skipper opened with his off-spinner who had neither the guile nor flight to trouble the batsmen.  At the other end, the young seamer struggled to work out where the line was and spent his spell over-stepping constantly.  He lasted just two overs before Worley began to rotate his bowling attack with alarming frequency.  The impact of this tactic was minimal as Bexfield and Hook scored freely and took the match away from Cockfosters.  Bexfield posted his 50 in 49 minutes and 47 balls, and hit nine 4s.  The pitch was made for his batting and he scored many of his runs between gully and cover point, using the slope of the pitch well.  He departed on 55 bowled by Viner who was the 7th bowler to be used by the Cockfosters’ skipper. 

Hook was watchful and correct, amassing his runs more slowly than Bexfield as he picked the bad balls and dispatched them well. He failed to reach his 50 by 1 run, distracted by the drinks break, he holed out on the boundary to Viner on 49 with a momentary lack of concentration that was untypical of his innings.  He might be forgiven for this since he had been subject to some of the most intense sledging this season, bringing the ‘art’ to a new low.  Viner (who returned excellent figures of 2 for 1) had little more of a role to play in the match; at the start of his third over he pulled up in his very short run-up with a hamstring strain and retired to the slips.  He was replaced by Clune who bowled a tidy spell and took the remaining 2 wickets finishing with 2 for 33 off 8 overs.

Ward and Chaudry came and went with cameo innings, leaving Brodie to hit the final runs with Lunney for company.  Brodie was in belligerent form hitting his 30 off just 21 balls with four 4s.  He seemed to be concerned that Offley might not get over the line and added to the entertainment with some light comedy calling which Lunney gainly joined in. (Yes No No Yes, oh f**!$).  The opposition certainly enjoyed this pantomime moment and it gave them plenty of material to feed off!

The winning runs came after just 30 overs and Offely pocketed yet another 30 points.  The sledging, however, did not end at the end of the match and encompassed more than just the players, with the scorer given something of a hard time!  Their captain had opened his conversation in the score box at the start of the match with a complaint about another team in the league being unsporting.  The irony of his own team’s behaviour seemed to be somewhat lost on him.

With 5 matches to play, Offley’s chance of promotion is very much in their hands; continued success against the remaining sides will see them playing in division 7 next year, and there is still the chance of winning the league.