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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Victory in the Battle of the Spanners
OSCC 219-5, beat Hoddesdon, 65-7, by 62 runs (Rain)
Offley kept their slim survival hopes alive as they recorded their first league win of the season against still-winless Hoddesdon.
It was Offley's first Saracens League win since August 6th, 2022.
A club-record sixth wicket stand of 109 between Dan Goord (65*) and Josh Scott (54*) set up the victory, as the dynamic duo caused chaos in the closing overs before the bowlers just about got through enough overs either side of two rain breaks to seal the win.
Captain Scott lost the toss and Offley were inserted.
They suffered an early blow when Marc Ward played a textbook cut shot to a delivery that required a text book forward defensive.
Steve Bexfield joined Richie Barker and the pair displayed different techniques and approaches, with Bexfield content to survive and pick up the odd single and Barker looking to find the boundary whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Nonetheless it was Barker who went next, bowled for 26, after he failed to pick the line of a delivery and played that silly half bat shot he often does, and missed.
Shoaib made a brisk 11 before miscuing a pull to midwicket.
That brought Goord to the crease and despite occasional efforts to run each other out, he and Bexfield kept the scoreboard ticking nicely before Bexfield finally departed shortly after drinks for a patiently composed 19, perishing when the ball stopped slightly in the pitch and he lobbed a soft catch to mid off.
The batsman walked off sadly shaking his head, presumably planning to have a word with the groundman.
Nathan Brodie lasted long enough to be dropped before he was bowled by a small child for 4.
It was then time for Offley to role out the Barrel, in this case the splendidly spherical barrel on legs that is Captain Scott.
Despite being the only member of the team under 30, Scott is currently afflcited by more injuries, ailments and strains than an intensive care unit.
The pair began slowly before slipping through the gears like Wayne Cutts's golf trolley running down a hill.
A flurry of boundaries and the odd scampered single pushed the score past the 150-mark and when Scott ran a quick two he had no choice but to call for a drink (and an iced bun) despite having only been batting seven overs.
The final five overs of the innings resulted in utter carnage as both players stormed to their first half-century of the year, Goord bringing the innings to an appropriate conclusion by launching the final ball over midwicket for 6 as Offley finished on 219-5, their highest score of the season.
At the halfway point the consensus was that Offley had enough, one player going as far as to suggest he would not only be retiring in the wake of a defeta, he would also be burning the pavilion down.
Steve Denton and Shafiq opened the bowling as the storm clouds rolled in.
Denton made the initial breakthrough when he beat the opener for pace before Shafiq claimed two wickets in successive delvieries.
Hoddesdon were rocking on 14-3 from 11 overs when the heavens opened and the umpire rightly brought the players off.
Fortunately the rains relented and after four overs were lost, Hoddesdon were left to chase a revised target of 196 from 36 overs.
The pacemen were replaced by Darren Lunney and Richie Barker.
While Barker was content to lob the ball down the other end as quickly as possible as the skies darkened once more, Lunney preferred to patiently take his time like an artist in his studio, repeatedly taking time to dry the ball, adjust the field and go through his usual routine on the grounds we were all Southern drama queens and it was just a bit of rain and if we wanted to see bad light we should spend an hour doon t'pit.
Boasting a new, sharp hair cut that gives him a striking resemblance to renowned US penalty misser and celebrated rug-muncher Megan Rapinoe, Lunney burst through the the defences of a child and then beat a man in the flight who had needed to be talked through the process of taking guard.
Two wickets for Lunney
Barker picked up a wicket before Lunney provided the fielding highlight of the season after Goord dropped a very difficult catch off the inside edge. Lunney rushed in from short fine leg to throw down the stumps at the bowler's end with a direct hit that would might have been out against Luton Indians.
Hoddesdon were going nowhere fast on 65-7 with 11 overs remaining when the rain returned to drive the players from the field for the final time.
The win keeps Offley's slender survival hopes alive although relegation will probably be secured next week against Broxbourne.
Yet for one week Captain Scott could enjoy victory and his intrepid crew could celebrate as they climbed off the bottom of the table for the first time since May.
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
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