The Ins and Outs (and Run Outs) of Hertfordshire's premier village cricket club, the one and only Offley & Stopsley CC.
All observations here are totally unofficial and not related to the club on any level.
Additionally, they are not intended to be helpful to anyone in any way.
John Davis made his debut for Offley in 2020 and has quickly established his all-round credentials. Regardless of whether it's running the barbecue, ferrying drinks out to the middle or simply keeping the troops supplied with ample rations, John is the man for the job and considers a cool box to be an essential part of his cricket kit. To date his batting has not been quite as impressive as his catering. After 10 trips to the middle he is still searching for his maiden double-figure score, currently boasting a highest score of 9. Bookmakers in Las Vegas are currently offering huge odds as to which of John Davis, Jamie Cummins and Desmond from Jesmond will be the first to smash through that particular glass ceiling. It's tempting to argue the only way is up for John but after averaging 3.66 in 2020, he is currently averaging 2.75 in 2021 and appears to be suffering from the notorious second season syndrome. While his batting needs work, John sets the tone in the field and is a
Not so long ago a lengthy spell for Jamie Cummins might only have featured a solitary over but potentially comprised 18 deliveries, such was his occasional inability to land the ball on the cut bit without the aid of diagrams and instructions. On such occasions it seemed as though he might get lost on his way to his destination long before he reached his delivery stride. These days he may still mix in a liberal helping of wides in every spell - his best effort to date this season was four in a row - but he is firmly on pace to take more wickets than any other Offley seamer in 2021, having claimed 15 by the end of June. Considering he only picked up 27 wickets in his first five seasons after making his debut in 2016, it's fair to say that Cummins has taken a substantial stride forward this year and is assured of taking the new ball whenever he plays. While lacking express pace he has developed the ability to get the ball to move dramatically at times, something that was superbly
It's not easy to briefly sum up this Offley legend although a number of his team-mates offered their opinions. Is bellend one or two words? Dependable but temperamental. A fucking diva. The Bunny Slayer. At various times in his career Barker has played a central role in four run outs in a single innings (you're just an amateur, Danny), made the club's highest individual score, disappeared without trace down the order and gone five years without a 50 and also taken more wickets than anyone else in club history despite possessing no discernible ability with the ball. It's also probably fair to say he's made more unhelpful observations than anyone else in the history of Offley & Stopsley while tour shirts with the names Mariah and Precious suggest he can be a little bit high maintenance at times on account of occasionally carrying on like a menstrual teenage girl (Cheers, Boaty). With over 630 wickets to his credit he has somehow claimed 150 scalps more than a
Offley enjoyed a wonderful day out on Sunday as they took part in an enthralling contest that featured some exciting experimental rules. According to the new rules batsmen were not permitted to be dismissed in any form unless their stumps were disturbed. Admittedly this would have been a fairly useful piece of information to have been armed with before Offley took the field for the second innings of the game anticipating a conventional game of cricket. But you live and learn. Things did not begin well as Scott Boatwright lost the toss and his team were asked to bat. By the end of the second over Offley were in a certain amount of trouble after slipping to 6-3. Josh Hook steered what would have been a wide to gully. Adam Ward followed up a majestic cover drive by edging to the keeper and walking without waiting for the umpire's decision and John Davis had his stumps rearranged. Ben Wiles and Josh Scott steadied the ship with a solid partnership before Scott was bowled for an ente
OSCC 166-4 (Hook 58) lost to Ware 167-2 (Denton 2-36) by 8 wickets A fourth successive defeat left Captain Dan's crew rooted to the bottom of the league as they were butchered in emphatic fashion by Ware. Despite a career-best performance by Matty Taylor and another Josh Hook half-century, Offley were crushed by eight wickets with almost 22 overs to spare as a Mr Pringle hammered an unbeaten 114. Hook underpinned the innings with a typically solid 58 and shared a third-wicket stand of 78 with Taylor. Ware's bowlers were all queuing up to bowl when Taylor arrived at the wicket after the dismissal of Captain Dan (24) and Marc Ward (12). Taylor, traditionally seen as something of a walking wicket, was quickly into his stride, playing and missing with customary panache and every so often spooning the ball into the gap. In fairness he did play a couple of nice cover drives, even if he did say so himself. Once Hook fell trying to up the run rate, Taylor quickly lost Josh Scott as h
What to say about Ian Laidler, a man whose very face shows that there must be a solution to the Middle East Peace Process as he combines the finest features of American Pie's Mr. Levenstein and a slightly flustered Turkish waiter? Laidler made his debut for the club in 2015 before becoming a regular in 2016. He subsequently served as club treasurer before enrolling in the Steve Bexfield Groundskeeper Academy and undertaking his current roll as junior pitch consultant. Laidler arrived from the charred wreckage of Crawley Green Nomads under the impression he was a plucky yet limited third change seam bowler. After undertaking the Offley initiation course Laidler was delighted to realise he had been reclassified as a plucky yet limited all-rounder with opening bowler pretensions. To be fair Laidler is seldom delighted about anything for long - like Private Frazer he's generally at his least discontented when things are unraveling and he can revel in the fact "We're all
An original Stopsley player, mild-mannered swing king Steve Denton returned to the club in 2013 after a lengthy sabbatical from the game. Stevie D may be nearing 60 (years not miles per hour) but he retains the same action and almost the same pace he once possessed three decades ago. He wasn't quick then and he isn't quick now. Steve is a throwback to a more genteel time when pace bowlers trained on pints, didn't believe in fielding and daubed their hair with brylcreem. Denton makes no secret of the fact that he would prefer not to open the bowling but a succession of captains have cheerfully ignored this, opting for his miserly line and length and ability to bowl tight spells up front. The risk of his arm falling off means he invariably bowls his allocation in a single spell. He recently passed the 150-wicket mark and has career-best figures for Offley of 7-38. Despite the wickets he is best known for his economy. Tighter than a Dan Goord single, almost a quarter of Ste
An aggressive all-rounder with an eye for a Mars Bar, Kaiz Ul-Haq, made his debut for Offley in 2019. He was introduced to the club by former fast bowler turned rapper C.J. McIlveen. If C.J. was the mentor, Kaiz was the protege, the Lil' Kim to C.J.'s Notorious B.I.G. Kaiz's first two years at the club were relatively inauspicious - Lil' Kim might reasonably have expected to make a bigger impact with bat and ball. Actually those first two seasons aspired to being classed as highly as inauspicious. In fact they were spectacularly awful. Kaiz batted 16 times in his first two seasons. In that period he amassed eight ducks and mustered just 60 runs at an average of 5.00, failing to even reach double figures until his second season. After narrowly losing out in 2019 to Scott Boatwright, Kaiz claimed the Duck Award in 2020 on countback. There would appear to be a reasonable chance of history repeating itself in 2021 but there's still a long way to go; for one thing
OSCC 170-6 (Hook 61*) beat Luton Town & Indians 70 all out (Cummins 5-25) by 100 runs On a dank and dismal day at the O.C.G., a day where the pitch was only playable thanks to the heroic dedication of the ground staff, the oh so solid crew of Stephen Bexfield and Ian Laidler, Jamie Cummins produced a career-best performance to set up a 100-run victory over Luton Town & Indians. Offley batted first and unleashed a new opening partnership in the form of the No Twos, No Chance duo of Josh Hook and Ali Shah. A patient 50-run partnership laid the groundwork and provided a platform for the middle order to exploit after Ali went for 17. It didn't quite work out that way despite Ben Wiles reaching double figures for the first time since the opening match of the season, Hassan made a typically swift contribution to the scorecard before Mark Tattersall fell first ball to a full toss, a dismissal that moves him into a share of a five-way lead for the coveted duck award. Surprising
It's not a secret. Everybody knows. League runs have been hard for Scott Boatwright to come by this season. Seven innings. 18 runs. Top score 6 (Before Dan ran him out - to be fair he did say he was going to get runs that day). Average 2.57. It's been hard going. But you can help. Because in 2021 it's not about orphans, or the homeless, or the starving, or about saving the rain forests. It's about Boat Aid. If everyone can find it in their hearts to pledge just one run to the cause we can really make a difference. Umpires - if the ball hits Boaty on the pads and the batsmen go through for a single, don't signal leg byes. Give that run to Boat Aid. Scorers - if there's a bye or even a wide, don't be so quick to mark it down in the extras. Can you not find a way to add it to Scott's tally to help him reach his goal of 100 league runs this season? Fellow batters - when batting with Boaty, can you not push for that second run to boost the Boat Aid total?
Cool. Calm. Collected. Not three words you generally associate with Offley's Mr Angry, Josh Hook. Well, maybe collected because he does like to be picked up whenever possible. The Boy With The Shit Tattoo came through the youth ranks under the expert tutelage of Darren Lunney and has been scoring runs for the Offley first team for over a decade. Hook has now racked up over 6000 runs to rank fifth in the all-time standings and in a team littered with fading stars, has-beens and never-will-bes, he is invariably the candidate most likely to get to 20. Despite not owning a bat - something not generally associated with most leading batsmen - Hook's determination and idiosyncratic technique have helped him score four centuries - he is one of the club';s youngest-ever centurions alongside Mark Tattersall - while he has also added 30 half-centuries. Hook currently has a timeshare arrangement with Lunney where he borrows his mentor's bat and holds him responsible for any fai
OSCC 107 all out (Lunney 43) lost to Kings Langley 195-7 (Hook 3-20) by 88 runs Perhaps nothing better sums up Captain Dan's trip to Kings Langley than this. Three of his bowlers recorded their best figures of the season and despite that Kings Langley, hitherto a byword for batting incompetence in 2021, still racked up their highest score of the season. Meanwhile Offley, also hitherto a byword for batting incompetence in 2021, outstripped anything that had gone before by collapsing from 98-3 to 107 all out despite putting out one of their strongest batting line-ups of the season. Things started well for Captain Dan as he won the toss and elected to bowl first on an overcast day. Steve Denton turned back the clock with a canny display of seam and swing bowling as the 59-year old defied the advance of age and took a season's best figures of 1-21. It was particularly impressive considering what was going on at the other end as Josh Scott disappeared to all parts. Scott, former
He may once have looked like a young Boris Johnson but Matthew Taylor has come a long way since those early days. As you can see.... Not many people could make the seamless transition from debonair young Etonian to inter-sexed Embarrassing Bodies contestant with such panache. Once described as a refugee from a dildo factory, Matty T's evolution as a cricketer has also been fascinating to watch. When he first arrived at the club there was some speculation that he might be one of the least gifted batsmen to join the Offley ranks. That was seemingly confirmed during an early net session when he unleashed a ferocious square cut that missed the ball but demolished his stumps. 22 ducks in 75 innings hardly suggests outstanding prowess with the bat but he has scored over 450 runs for the club and averages a shade under 7, figures that some of the truly inept can only dream of. Indeed when he gets off the mark Taylor averages over 10, a statistic that shows just how effective he can be wh
The long-running recruitment slogan of the United States Marine Corps states, "We're looking for a few good men." Offley's recruitment policy is simply concerned with recruiting a few men to plug the gaps in the ranks. They don't have to be any good and in that regard Desmond Bateman has fitted seamlessly into the line up. Desmond from Jesmond has had limited opportunities to make his mark in his debut season and the highlight of his career came at Steppingley when he and Jamie Cummins produced a true moment of village cricket brilliance and ran four on a ball that had originally gone through to the wicketkeeper before an avalanche of overthrows ensued. Technically his finest moment came with a magnificent catch on the boundary - unfortunately this catch was taken by someone else who happened to be playing under the alias of Desmond Bateman so he can't really claim that for himself. Nominally a batsman, Des hasn't quite hit the heights he had hoped for
OSCC 123-9 (Hook 42) beat Queen's Park Westfield 119 all out (Lunney 4-20) by 1 wicket Offley snapped a three-game losing skid and kept their Beds League promotion hopes alive with an epic one-wicket victory at Queens Park. Preme Lala's first run for the club tied the game before Richie Barker pierced the field to seal victory with four balls remaining to spark the celebrations (and recriminations from the other side but we'll get to that in due course). Things got off to a rocky start as a breakdown in communications between stand-in captain Barker and administrative administrator Darren Lunney led to Offley winning the toss and opting to bowl first on the hottest day of the year on a surface which seemed set to crumble from the off. Having being intercepted by the opposition skipper before he had viewed the pitch (normally a standard practice) Lunney tossed up 150 yards from the middle which allowed him to do the walk of shame to where his team-mates were waiting. After
OSCC 161-6 (Goord 46) lost to Southgate Adelaide 162-4 (Lunney 1-18) by 6 wickets Captain Dan's crew slipped to a second consecutive defeat as they dropped to eighth in the table ahead of next week's trip to cellar dwellers Kings Langley. For those who haven't been paying particularly close attention, there are ten teams in the league. The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first on a deck Deputy Groundsman Laidler had described as "an absolute belter". Offley were soon in some trouble on 17-3. The Lunney-Hook axis at the top of the order, otherwise known as the Cornerstones of Catastrophe, combined for just 3 runs before the returning Marc Ward joined them in the pavilion after being dismissed for a single. Offley needed a partnership and found one in the unlikely shape of Captain Dan and Colin Williams, a pair of toothpicks among a squad of the more amply-proportioned. Goord and Williams may both look like anorexic drunks - Williams carries himself wi
During his time at Offley Scott Boatwright has demonstrated many talents and abilities. As the epitome of a first grade club man, Boaty is always happy to help out, whether it's picking people up, bringing along bottles of water, attending meetings and generally doing whatever he can. He does whatever he can on the pitch as well. As captain of the Sunday Specials Boaty has to juggle three jobs - captain, keeper and batsman. There's no questioning his captaincy skills. After two games this season Offley were top of the league and threatening to run away with the prestigious Division Four crown and plans for an open-top bus celebration around Offley were under discussion. Three games later and they're fourth and looking at another season of midtable mediocrity. Those who have seen him struggle to simply hold on to the ball when it comes through to him will know that juggling is not easy for him. Boaty's technique behind the stumps has been variously compared to a sea
Prior to the start of the 2021 season, 168 different players had been dismissed without scoring for Offley & Stopsley C.C. Only five had achieved the feat of registering 30 blobs, the most recent addition to the elite ranks being Chairman Mark Tattersall who recorded a single duck in 2020. However, while Tattersall now has every chance to make third spot his own in 2021 (his dismissal at Steppingley moved him into a tie with Mo Chaudry) he has little chance of catching the second-placed Colin Keeley (42) and no chance whatsoever of challenging the undisputed Duck King for his title. For when it comes to distinguished duckery, Darren Lunney reigns supreme. Admittedly Lunney is the only man in club history to bat more than 500 times but even so 54 ducks seems a little excessive. Actually in the wake of number 55 on Saturday - a full toss which was guided helpfully into the hands of a square leg fielder who couldn't believe his luck - perhaps it's not that surprising. Whi
After a trawl through the scrawl of scorecards that littered various books during the pandemic-affected 2020 season, the averages have been collected and collated. 37 different players took the field for Offley in 2020, some of whom were competent, some of whom weren't entirely terrible and some of whom were beyond terrible. At the end of a difficult year for the world, one man had reason to feel more satisfied than most. That man was the left-leaning, left-armed leftist Peter Gilkes. Gilkes led the way with 21 wickets for Offley and by any reasonable measure topped the averages. Gilkes took more than twice as many wickets as the next two most successful bowlers (Ali Shah and James Barker with 10 apiece) as his smorgasbord of deliveries proved too much for batsmen to resist, most notably against Caddington where he claimed 5-10 in a stunning spell. Ian Laidler deserves a creditable mention and had he not heroically delivered a two-over spell in the face of a brutal assault at San
Some fun-filled stats from a weekend of batting incompetence rarely seen in the club's 24-year history.... Runs off the bat: 152 at an average of 7.6 runs per wicket Overs batted: 63.5 out of 85 Overs unused: 21.1 (That's 127 fucking balls, people!!!!!!) Double figure scores: 6 Scores over 20: 2 Single figure dismissals: 14 Ducks: 6 Batting Points: Have a guess....... Incidentally on Saturday there is a limit of nine overs per bowler and eight overs per bowler on Sundays. Despite what some people seem to think there is no restriction on the number of runs an Offley batsman is permitted to score before he has to thump the self-destruct button.