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 OSCC, 181-4, beat Old Albanians, 154-9, by 27 runs

It might have taken a while but on a day where skipper Marc Ward was absent in a bid to seduce Snow White along with six similarly diminutive accomplices, Offley finally found a way to win a game.

Perhaps it was because Old Albanians were even more hopeless than Offley; perhaps because even a blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn and on this day Dan Goord located the middle of the bat; and perhaps the addition of Ben Southgate, someone who clearly knows what he is doing, combined to lead Offley to their first league victory of the season.

For some reason Offley, a team who can at times consider themselves fortunate to play on a needle-strewn, dog-shit littered, pikey-infested council wasteland, found themsleves playing on one of the premier venues in Hertfordshire and raised their game accordingly.

They might have found a way to drop eight catches (in fairness only four players shelled a catch but each of them compensated by dropping two) but this was a day when eleven heroes put their bodies on the line - not to mention their kneecaps, as Bradley Lyons nobly sacrificed his ability to walk without a limp to prevent a boundary - and finally found a way to win.

It was a day of landmarks where speedster Jamie Cummins - in future to be known as the Gammon Cannon - not only became the 17th Offley player to take 100 wickets, but also sent down the worst hat-trick ball in club history.

Where Lyons claimed his first catch for the club, sensationally clinging on at midwicket to dismiss Albanians' Mr Cricket (he subsequently dropped the next two that were hit to him which probably pissed Mr Cricket off even more; shame).

And where the Offley Devil, Richie Barker, claimed the 666th wicket of his career.

Barker lost the toss and Offley were invited to bat, quickly losing their first wicket as Scott Boatwright guided a long hop into the hand (singular) of square leg.

Boaty was relatively sanguine about his dismissal, although admittedly he became less so as the day progressed and various people suggested how he should have dealt with the delivery.

A week ago Steve Bexfield's innings of 6 from 38 balls was recorded for posterity, a Chris Austin impersonator in excelsis.

On this day there was no record of the numerous balls faced for his 16 but there was no disguising his discomfort and distress as he played and missed at a succesion of deliveries, his bat reduced to the status of white stick, lamenting the loss of his eyesight, before he was finally put out of his misery by a 7'3 15-year old diving to his left to take a one-handed catch.

Despite further damaging his hamstring, Barker played solidly for 42 before picking out the same behemoth in the covers. At some point in this knock Barker became the first Offley player to rach 100 runs for the season.

On June the fucking 1st.

Bearing in mind that in the past more than one Offley player has scored a century in April, this is not a terribly impressive achievement.

Josh Hook, surviving a confident appeal for a catch off the wicket before he had scored, made a useful 24 on his first appearance of the season, finally rocking up at the ground for the first time at the third of asking.

However, the story of the batting was Goord, a man who if he was ever arrested on suspicion of invovlement in a killing spree would soon be released when the police realised that whenever he slashes at something he misses.

After a slow start that featured a number of trademark play and misses outside off stump, the Plymouth Pimpernel (He edges it here, he edges it there, he edges it every fucking where) exploded into life with successive straight sixes.

Making the most of three dropped catches that ranged from the simple to the really simple (including one on 48 that really upset erstwhile best chum Matty Taylor who had turned up to watch), Goord reached his half-century with a boundary off the final ball of the innings as Offley closed on 181-4, Goord unbeaten on 52.

With just one fast medium-fast medium slow-medium trundler with a long run up available in Cummins, Offley began with spin from both ends. 

Darren Lunney set the tone for what was to come by shelling a sharp return catch before making the initial breaktrhough by winning an lbw decision.

However, it was Southgate who gave Offley the advantage as he ripped out three key wickets to claim 3-18.

Goord held a skier at mid on (shortly after replacing Lunney who had watched one lob over his head in the same position while staring in wonderment at it like some sort of slow-witted astrologer seeing the moon for the first time) and Hook took an excellent low diving catch at mid off, a catch that made a mockery of the two he later dropped.

And yet the big story was Lyons.

In all his previous games for the club he has shown a wonderful ability to catch nothing, his hands evidently allergic to leather.

This time it was different. 

Mr Cricket was the batter, a man who had made a big impression on the Offley players by trying to move the field from fine leg, fielding in a tea cosy and bowling some loopy spinny stuff. He was the sort of fella who owns one of those fucking awful tea towels with the fielding positions on it and can quote the laws of the game inside out - although as was to shortly become clear he didn't actually know them.

Southgate dropped one short, Mr Cricket swatted it to midwicket and Lyons, against all odds, clung on to the catch to prompt joyous scenes, prompting Chairman Boatwright to apologetically inform the unhappy batter that it was Bradders' first ever catch.

I hope that helped.

Cummins had been stuck on 99 wickets for the club for a month. He was stuck on that number for another six overs before the ball was hit to the safe hands of Goord. Jamie was still stuck on 99 as Goord dropped it. 

Moments later he reached his century (something he will never do as a batsman) when Goord atoned.

Cummins immediately set off on the road to 200 by striking with his next delivery, a pearler which pitched and seamed and swung and found the edge.

His next delivery was basically a legside wide.

At the other end Josh Scott was causing havoc with some inspired dross, including a delivery that bounced twice and rearranged the stumps.

He struck again with this ingeneous method only to be erroneously called for a no ball by Mr Cricket, now umpiring from both ends and shining the light of his wisdom on proceedings.

Offley's fielders were not best impressed none more so than S. P. Bexfield.

In the past Bexfield liked to consider himself the ace of the Offley batting. On this day he was more Trump, bellowing "Fake news!" and demanding that justice be served in his quest to MOGA - Make Offley Great Again.

Had the wicket stood and had Hook not dripped a sitter, Old Albanians would have folded for about 80.

As it was 76-8 became 147-8 as more catches went down - in the final reckoning Goord dropped two out of four, Hook and Lyons two out of three and Lunney two out of two - and Offley spent rather longer in the field than they would have liked.

The breakthrough finally came when Barker produced a vicious lifting delivery that pushed the batsman back on to his stumps and resulted in him standing on his own stumps in an act of self-preservation.

Not a bad way to make it 666 wickets.

The hosts closed on 154-9 as Offley sauntered to victory by 27 runs.

The win lifts Offley to seventh in the table, lofty heights that they have not enjoyed this late in the year in the Saracens League since before the pandemic.

Afterwards fines were paid, beers were drunk and the celebrations made whatever Real Madrid were getting up to just down the road seem rather tame.

What a win.

What a club.

What a team. 



  1. OH. MY. GAWWWWWD. I just can't guys!!!!! xx


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