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Field of Screams


Considering we combined to shell 78 catches between us last year it's slightly worrying that in 2023 Offley & Stopsley might be putting the worst fielding side in history on the pitch.

That's not something to be said lightly of a club that once used to hold the Milk Floats of Fire contest to determine the slowest player.

The only greyhound connected with the club is owned by Secretary Matthew Taylor. 

And the fact Matty T got landed with the secretary job shows he's clearly lost some of his speed and mental agility.

A combination of the slow, the aged, the weighty and the infirm (and that's just Luke Munt's medical notes) look set to go into action when the season gets underway next month.

It's not helped by the fact two of the younger members of the club, James Barker and Kaiz Ul Haq, are away at university for the start of the season.

JB only plays on a Sunday and Kaiz is rumoured to be taking his 20 career ducks from 66 innings to Potten End on a Saturday so that rather emphasises the lack of mobility in the Saracens League.

No one yet knows if Steve Bexfield will follow through on his threat to retire after dropping two catches in his final appearance of 2022. Bexfield has long been plagued by little hands but he has always been willing to put in a shift at square leg or short fine leg and has something of a pedigree when it comes to throwing down the stumps.

Additionally urban rap sensation Courtney John McIlveen is expected to miss most of the season with his latest injury. 

His name is C.J. Mac and he's lying on his back 

Cos he's broken all his bones just like ice cream cones

What does that leave? 

Apart from the fervent hope that the official best fielder in the club Adam Ward manages more than five matches in 2023 and anything in the air goes near Ben Wiles?

Steve Denton will be back for another year and while it could be argued that he could successfully race one of his own deliveries over 22 yards, it's fair to say that Stevie D is not the man you'd want waiting under a catch if your life depended on it.

That's despite the fact he snaffled a remarkable 55 catches in just 12 games in 1995. That's if the statistics of a previous archivist are to be believed. 

Roger Piepenstock and Peter Gilkes patrol the covers like a couple of hapless German sentries constantly looking the wrong way in The Great Escape.

In fairness both took remarkable catches last year and caught as many as they dropped so they can hardly be singled out for that reason, even if Piepenstock did subsequently grass one in the manner of a quadreplegic playing volleyball. 

No season would be the same without the sound of a leather ball ricocheting off Darren Lunney's ribcage. Lunney is fearless in the field, never hesitating to throw himself in the way of the ball, regardless of how fast it's travelling. Sometimes he even stops it.

Danny O'Brien is still looking for his first catch after spilling all five opportunities that fell to him in 2022. In fairness Kevin Pietersen dropped his first seven catches for England. He then caught the next 16.

In his youth as an electrician Luke Munt was a livewire in the field, a sparkplug who made things happen. 

These days the elderly Munt has taken up dog walking and moves about like a dyspeptic bloodhound in perpetual search of a biscuit and a place in the shade. 

On those days when he does play Munt will form an impressive one-man slip cordon and gully region.

Mark Tattersall can no longer move with the athleticism of his youth, Richie Barker has decided that if no one is prepared to erect a statue to commemorate his achievements then he's going to impersonate one while Jamie Cummins motors around the field with an unconventional running style that suggests he's trying to smash ants with his elbows.

Jono Evetts and Dan Goord may be as good as it gets in the field for Offley although as they combined for 9 catches and 13 drops in 2022 that's not necessarily much of a best. Both have an interesting ability to catch anything no matter how hard the chance and also to shell anything regardless of how easy it is.

The cymbals section behind the stumps - Messrs Boatwright and Hook - caught 19 and dropped 16 between them. 

At times the ball melts into their gloves as softly as a chef lovingly caressing his prized creation with oven gloves. 

At other times it seems as though they're trying to sound the 1812 Overture.

Yet when all is said and done it may be a case of addition by subtraction because at least we no longer have to figure out how to try and hide Ali.....


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