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 OSCC, 155-8, lost to Aldenham 156-4, by 6 wickets

On a day that was somewhat overshadowed by a run out (and subsequent fall out) between Offley's opening batsmen, Josh Scott's Road Warriors produced another example of chronic travel sickness, one aided and abetted by another spectacular collapse. 

The Road Warriors have now lost all four of their away trips in the Saracens League and while they remain undefeated at the bastion that is the Offley Cricket Ground their inability to win on their travels is starting to prove demoralising. 

Offley went into battle with nine and a half men due to a combination of turf toe, Monster Trucks, the sulks, an unregistered Veg and a trip to Amsterdam. At one point they would be reduced to seven and a half men but no one knew that and if we had we would doubtless have stayed away.

But we did not know.

Captain Scott won the toss and elected to bat first on a surface that appeared likely to offer some bounce.

That bounce was on display in the early stages when elderly opener Steve Bexfield was struck a blow on the helmet when the ball reared from short of a length and his reflexes were too slow to enable him to sway out of the way.

After that early scare (and an attempt to play the next delivery from somewhere in the vicinity of square leg) Bexfield and Josh Hook did their best to dig in. Neither was at their most fluent and sweetly struck shots were at a premium but they ground out the a solid start to the innings with some heavy scoring in the third man area and the occasional quick single.

The partnership was worth 74 when Bexfield middled one off his pad to backward square and Hook loudly called "Yes". 

Responding to his partner's call, Bexfield set off like an elderly whippet with firecrackers round his legs.

Moments later Hook decided the run was ill-advised and attempted to send his partner back.

Unfortunately for Hook he'd have had more success trying to send back a second-hand Russian mail order bride.

Suddenly alert to the dangers of being stranded mid-pitch the 55-year old Bexfield turned on the afterburners and streaked past Hook to the sanctuary of the bowler's end.

Hook might have made his ground - especially after the keeper bungled the throw and spent an eternity gathering the ball and dislodging the bails - but he was already in the middle of a tantrum (and the middle of the wicket) bemoaning his partner's selfishness.

He stomped off making comments about selfish big kids and other such choice remarks. 

Hook's mood may not have been helped entirely by the dulcet tones of Roger Piepenstock - a man who makes Henry Blofeld sound like Danny Dyer - informing he was jolly unlucky and if he'd run he would have got in.

Fortunately (from the entertainment point of view, not from the point of view of Offley actually winning the game) Bexfield was bowled through a wide open gate next over and stomped off to discuss the finer points of a quick single.

Both players had had their say. Hook doubled down on his assertion down that Bexfield was selfish. Bexfield claimed he was nearly 60 and had been committed to the run and then eloquently threatening to wrap a bat round Hook's head.

(Incidentally, in a court of law if Bexfield wrapped Darren's bat round Hook's head, would he be convicted of assault or simply fined for using Darren's bat?) 

Bexfield finally settled for throwing Hook's drink over him before marching off.

Calm and tranquility of a sort arrived with the drinks break and Offley resumed on 74-2 before the middle order decided to go AWOL.

Marc Ward survived a strong LBW shout before driving to mid off.

Ben Wiles may be having a fantastic season with bat and ball but the fact remains he will head into July still searching for his first run away from home in the Saracens League as he followed up a duck at Pinner with a duck at Aldenham as he missed an in-swinger.

Piepenstock was undone by a shooter that went subterranean and detonated the base of middle stump, trudging off forlornly shaking his head in disbelief at how cricket could be so cruel.

Captain Scott completed the collapse when rather than seeing off the final delivery of Munro's spell (the bowler had already accounted for Bexfield, Ward and Wiles) he opted to swing for the leg side fences and was sent on his way by Umpire Denton.

74-0 had become 83-6, a collapse completed in macabre slow motion across the space of 10 overs,

Darren Lunney and Kaiz Ul-Haq gave Offley a glimmer of hope against the spinners in the closing overs. 

Kaiz plundered a succession of boundaries and made a brave 28 before holing out at cow corner.

Lunney marshaled the tail to good effect and finished unbeaten on 21 as Offley secured a fourth batting point off the final ball of the innings, closing on 155-8.

Offley needed to take early wickets, in particular that of Captain Munro (not the bowler) who was coming in off the back of a century.

Unfortunately the tone was set in the opening exchanges as Wiles served up a tasty pie that was thumped towards the midwicket boundary. Bexfield and Piepenstock lumbered after it before Bexfield left it to his colleague who attempted to kick it back with his foot and missed as the ball trickled over the rope.

Within five overs of the innings the writing was on the wall as the shattered remnant of the Offley line-up sought succor and salvation.

Wiles's first three overs went for 23.

Bexfield displayed his trademark selfishness by excusing himself from the fray on account of feeling poorly.

Captain Scott shelled a catch coming out of the darkness.

Kaiz hurled himself forward at cover in an optimistic attempt to take an impossible catch and had his testicles rearranged by the ball. It was a savage blow, one that had everyone else on the ground flinching in sympathy and empathy and raised the prospect of Kaiz turning up in a sari next week. 

He scampered off in clear distress to conduct an emergency stock take and would not return until he had donned a box for the remainder of the innings. 

Admittedly it was not clear whether this was to prevent against further blows or because he needed something to store his rearranged junk in. 

Nonetheless Offley were down to eight men for a spell, essentially seven and a half on account of Richie Barker being stricken with turf toe (an affliction most commonly found in American Football wide receivers and ballerinas) and barely able to move. Barker was only on the field in the first place after being emotionally blackmailed by the captain over his potential replacement. 

Wiles offered a little hope as he made a double breakthrough and the wounded returned to the fray.

Bexfield demonstrated his fitness by chasing consecutive cut shots to the boundary. However, he still looked rather pasty and a third successive chase might well have reunited Bexfield with his lunch.

Kaiz overcame the blow amidships to pick up a wicket aided by a flying catch from Wiles at mid off. Unfortunately his next over went for 17 as he was bombed out of the attack.

By this time Aldenham were flying, Captain Munro was on his way to a second consecutive century and the result was inevitable. 

Scott picked up a wicket with his first ball, suggesting he had delayed his introduction into the attack for too long, but the end came in a rain-streaked blur as Munro raced through the 80s and 90s and carried his team to victory in what would have been Lunney's final over had he actually completed it without being hammered for 20 off five balls.

Offley took eight points from the contest, a haul that cemented their hold on sixth spot in the table and proved that when it comes to away games they might as well stay at home.


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