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Worst In The West

 OSCC, 143-9, lost to Rickmansworth, 201-6, by 58 runs

Imagine a day where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, a day that ended with Offley dropping to the bottom of Division Nine West.

And there you essentially have the story of Offley's latest defeat.

It was a day that began with Offley in eighth place, still hopeful of chasing down Leverstock Green in seventh and avoiding yet another relegation.

It somehow ended with them rock bottom of the table, staring up at not just Leverstock Green but also the hitherto hapless Old Albanians and Luton Indians, both of whom recorded upset victories elsewhere.

It's hard to know where to start.

With Marc Ward losing the toss and being invited to field?

With Josh Scott making his way to the ground in the world's slowest uber, driven by a man who obeyed speed limits and traffic laws and missing the first two overs?

With the returning Kaiz Ul Haq apparently forgetting his way to the ground and missing the first five overs?

With Kaiz bowling the opposition's top-scorer only for the bails to not come off?

With Ward dropping said top-scorer by somehow cork-screwing himself into a dreadful position and shelling a sitter? 

With former Offley player Hassan Shah scoring more runs in a single over off Richie Barker than he'd previously scored in an innings at Offley?

With Dan Goord being involved in another two run outs, neither of which were really his fault for once?

Or with the club's self-appointed best fielder dropping a catch in the opening over, Jamie Cummins thereby setting the tone for what was to come?

Take your pick.

In fairness it was also the day when Danny O'Brien, not usually a byword for excellence in the field, took an absolute stunner of a catch, drifting back and catching it over his shoulder with minimum fuss to stake his claim for the champagne moment of the year.

Things started reasonably well as Rickmansworth slipped to 44-3.

Darren Lunney picked up a couple of early wickets, one of which featured that rarest of sightings, a Barker catch, and Cummins won an LBW decision.

The LBW looked as though it might have drifted down the leg side but the umpire clearly knew better than to mess with the menacing fast bowler.

Another rare sighting - and rather less welcome - was Steve Denton, master of line and length, losing both and being withdrawn from the attack after three overs.

When he returned later on for another two over spell it was apparent that the radar was still missing, as was the ball a couple of times before it could be retrieved from a hedge.

Lunney was also in the thick of it in the field, his habit of loudly bawling "Darren!" in a voice that can be heard at Luton Airport whenever the ball comes within ten yards of him drew angry accusations of gamesmanship from a portly batter claiming he was shouting "No run!"

Even allowing for Darren's exotic Tyne-Rhein accent (born in Germany, raised in Gateshead), this suggested the batsman had cheese coming out of his ears, a distinct possibility considering he looked like a man who could polish off a stuffed crust pizza for breakfast and then go in search of elevenses while plotting his lunctime assault on a pukka pie and chips.

On a pitch that offered a little more bounce than typical Offley surfaces - while simultaneously offering an added degree of roll - Cummins came steaming in, arms pumping in the traditional fashion of a man trying to smash a fly with his elbows.

Somehow a rogue delivery lifted off the surface to strike the batsman's helmet. This delighted Cummins who strutted about the place, testosterone flowing from every pore, displaying the sort of attitude he had not shown since kicking the shit out of a couple of small girls and stealing their sweeties on an away day adventure with Luton Town.

Fired up by the sound of leather on grille, Cummins continued to bowl effectively as did Kaiz although they finished up with a solitary wicket between them.

Kaiz has lost a yard round his waist during his time at university but sadly despite a bustling run-up that looks as though he's planning to compete in the pole vault in Paris this summer he's evidently also lost a yard of pace as he failed to dislodge the bails despite hitting the stumps.

In many ways Kaiz is Lunney's prize protege as neither seem able to go more than about seven minutes without having some sort of run-in with the opposition.

Josh Scott broke a 65-run stand to make it 109-4 and Barker then accounted for Hassan with just his twelfth delivery.

Unfortunately the previous eleven went for 25.

Lunney returned to pick up a third wicket as Offley stuck at it in the heat and enjoyed a gala day in the field where they caught as many as they dropped (four) but Rickmansworth's final score of 201-6 always looked as though it would be beyond an Offley line-up that tends to regard 150 as some sort of exotic destination they are unlikely ever to visit.

Special mention must go to Roger Piepenstock for his efforts in the field which saw him heroically trudge from long off to long off between overs with never a cross word. Piepenstock is not used to having to slum it in such a way and would normally expect his household staff to transport him in a luxuriously appointed litter.

Had he not had to travel so far between overs he might have been able to summon up the extra couple of yards to reach a regulation catch off Scott, a refusal that drew a look of dismay, disgruntlement and disgust from the bowler.

Scott, consistently Offley's most reliable fielder in the deep this season, has the disadvantage that he is unable to field at cow corner or long off on his own bowling, thereby leaving potential catches to be shelled by other handless individuals, usually Jamie.

With no option but to go hard from the outset Ward and Barker started went out with all guns blazing as they put on 41 from the first six overs.

With a certain degree of inevitability that disintegrated to 50-3 as Barker, Ward and Steve Bexfield all departed to shots that could charitably be described as soft (as in soft as shite), offering catching practice to balls that stuck in the pitch.

Goord and Kaiz steadied the ship with a partnership of 54 before Kaiz dawdled over a leisurely single, informing the bowler who was appealing optimistically for an lbw decision that he'd hit the bowl, and apparently contemplating what was on the menu for dinner.

In an incident worthy of a Tales of the Unexpected special, this allowed Hassan to pick the ball up at point and throw down the stumps at the bowler's end with the batsman's nowhere in sight.

Goord was nearly invovled in two runs outs in two balls as he did his best to run out Scott without facing with a quick single to gully.

In the greater scheme of things it didn't matter as Scott saved the scorer the trouble and lobbed another catch to mid off, 104-3 becoming 105-5 and the game effectively up.

Danny O'Brien made his highest score of the season before being run out for 9 in a mix-up with Goord as the innings imploded.

Goord was bowled playing a poor shot to a straight ball for 39 before Lunney and Cummins both went without scoring, the former spooning a twice-hit shot to square leg and the latter wafting outside off stump in the manner of a frail old woman fanning herself on a warm afternoon.

It was left to Piepenstock and Denton (the latter wearing one pad in protest at the latest batting collapse) to scramble a fifth batting point in the final over as the game petered out.

Results elsewhere saw Offley drop to the foot of the table.

Perhaps it's no surprise that a club with such a committed approach to drinking should feel totally at home in the cellar.


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