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.
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Offley Go West as Cummins Goes South
Offley, 193 all out, lost to Eggington, 205-7, by 12 runs
Not since Richie Barker ran out four team-mates in a single game at Wardown Park in 1998 has one man stamped his signature on a defeat with quite such aplomb as Rose West lookalike Jamie Cummins managed against Eggington.
Despite finishing with figures of 3-27, Cummins is unlikely to quickly live down the memory of delivering 14 wides and five no-balls.
Not to mention dropping a catch.
Or being run out without facing to end the game, a dismissal admittedly that the aforementioned Barker was somewhat complicit in.
Matty Taylor deputised for Ben Wiles at the coin flip and won the toss and elected to bowl, a decision based on necessity and past experience as much as anything else.
Cummins took the new ball and opened up with an early barrage of wides before making the breakthough when he surprised the batsman with a straight ball.
Cummins gave way to Wiles who struck with is first delivery before repeatedly beating the bat and enjoying no luck as Eggington rebuilt the innings.
Peter Gilkes helped considerably with the rebuild as he delivered two overs packed with tasty offerings that went for 28 runs.
James Barker came on at the Football Ground End and produced an excellent spell, one that looked set to claim a first wicket when a leading edge sent the ball into orbit and Cummins settled under it at extra cover, confidently called his name and then shelled it.
Considering this was the same fielder who had proclaimed before the start that he'd caught more catches than anyone this year (true) and had hardly dropped any (not so sure about that), it was a little disappointing.
It also made it something of a surprise that he'd managed to catch his train back from Brighton after the football.
Barker finally broke the third-wicket stand and finished with figures of 8-2-16-1.
Elsewhere Offley were not exactly helping themselves in the field.
Taylor fielded one with his face. Luke Munt tried to stop an errant throw with his foot (he subsequently stopped one ball on the boundary only to fall over with the exertion) and Richie Barker ran in, dived and picked the ball up cleanly and threw the ball to the same end where both batsmen were having an interesting little debate.
This all happened in such slow-motion that the batsman strolled nonchalantly back down the pitch to safety.
Cummins returned for a two-over burst that featured more wides, a couple of catches at mid off by Kaiz Ul-Haq and the small matter of four no balls in as many deliveries before he was withdrawn from the attack for the last time.
Despite that Jamie now has a club-leading 20 victims to his name this season.
It would have been 21 but a return catch came off one of the no balls.
Richie Barker picked up a couple of late wickets and Wiles entered into an interesting little discussion with the umpire about the merits of a wide call, one that prompted the official to suggest Offley were only moaning because they couldn't catch.
Which was not really the sort of thing you'd expect from an independent arbitrator but actually quite funny.
Eggington closed on 205-7, a total boosted somewhat by 26 wides and six no balls.
Offley were set 206 to win and Dan Goord and Kaiz opened the innings, an innings that was soon in danger of being drowned in a succession of loud LBW shouts.
A solid start ended when Kaiz miscued to extra cover for 10.
Adam Ward came in and played a couple of typically high class shots before he was castled for 12 to make it 49-2.
Captain Wiles joined Goord and after a scratchy start that included a big shout for LBW and a drop by the keeper (shame), he found his touch.
Wiles launched a pair of massive sixes and reached his highest league score of the year and Offley were in control with the scoreboard reading 115-2.
At which point, not for the first time, it all went to shit.
Wiles was bowled for 35 attempting somethign needlessly extravagant.
Gilkes lasted two balls before perishing for his ninth duck of the season, slicing the ball to gully with familiar panache.
Gilkes: Half-Man, Half-Duck
It was 117-5 when Munt crashed a cut shot to point and was brilliantly caught one-hand, one-bounce.
Headache victim Danny Trees was the sixth man to go for a patiently-constructed 2 and was then given a send-off by the bowler.
Offley were rocking.
However, Taylor counterattacked with a rapid 16, flaying the bowlers over the off sidebefore he played back when he should have played forward and was bowled.
Taylor too was given a send off, the bowlers clearly realising the quality of the batsman they had dismissed.
James Barker and Goord added 38 to take the score to 177 before Goord feathered a catch to the keeper, the faintest of edges that could have been heard in Rawlpindi.
Goord stood his ground for a moment before sadly walking off, presumably in disbelief that the uncoordinated individual behind the stumps had actually held on to something.
The Barker Boys added 16 before JB perished via the inside edge, setting the scene for Jamie to be a hero and win the day.
After four dot balls in the 38th over, Barker was left facing a catch-22 situation; risk the single off the fifth or sixth to keep the strike.
Unfortunately any situation that involved a catch was unlikely to end well for Cummins after the day he'd had and so it proved when an optimistic call for a single to point ended with him being narrowly run out despite a desperate full length dive that bore a vague resemblance to a baby camel being harpooned.
Apparently being run out without facing constitutes a lady duck as it involves no balls - bit ironic considering his bowling analysis.
The defeat combined with Kempston's shock win over Stony Stratford saw Offley slide into the relegation zone for the first time this year and with just two games to go, the threat of an unprecdented double drop now looms large.
Despite that Offley live to fight another day.
And as for James Cummins, just like Lauren James, he's young and we'll put our arm round him and he'll learn from his experience.
He's one of our own.
And on the bright side after this performance he'll never have to buy another drink in Eggington in his life.
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 Saturd
Cricket is famous for some of its legendary brothers. On the world stage Australia have given the game the Chappells, the Waughs, the Marshes and the Husseys. England had the Smiths, the Bedsers and the Hollioakes. West Indies had Dwayne and Darren Bravo. Zimbabwe produced Grant and Andy Flower. New Zealand had Jeff and Martin Crowe. At a slightly less exalted level, Offley have featured the Tattersalls, the Hooks and the St Johns. Young tyro James Barker might not be related by blood to any other Offley player (apart from his dad who has played the occasional game) but he does have a role model and big brother figure to look up to in Jamie Cummins. This inseparable pair are more like the Trotter brothers, Del and Rodney, with JB assuming the mantle of naive innocent Rodney looking up to his streetwise older brother Del. JB and JC Rodney JB regards Jamie as someone he hopes to grow up to be just like - an accomplished cricketer and a man of the world with a fine taste in style and f
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