Offley 173-8, 40 overs (Mclaughlin 2-18, Collinson 2-23) beat Lilley 134 all out, 30 overs (Mills 32) by 39 runs.
Offley sealed the Mansfield Towndrow Trophy with only two matches played in the three match series thanks to an unexpectedly narrow win at a sun baked Geoff Banks-Smith Memorial Cricket Ground yesterday.
Lilley were beset by unavailability, with Steve Mcardle, Sam Burgess and débutante Jimmy Rainey drafted in to bolster numbers as the Captain, Vice Captain and opening bowler were off swanning around various weddings and one sided Test Matches.
Former Captain James Ashby was thrust back to the helm in the absence of Messrs Kruger and Perry, which meant the dubious distinction of accompanying Offley’s few-sandwiches-short-of-a-picnic portly skipper Matt Freeman out for the toss. Freeman called incorrectly and Ashby, unusually for Lilley, chose to bowl first in the absence of much of Lilley’s much vaunted batting unit.
Fortunately for Lilley, Offley too were missing many of their best players. Well, basically they didn’t have the one man team Tom Reilly playing. But the absences of Brodie, Bexfield, Lunney and others gave Lilley hope of keeping the visitors under 500. Lilley opened up with Taz Qureshi and Dan McLaughlin. Qureshi had hoped to use the ‘I’m fasting, I’m tired’ line to avoid a serious work out, but with Hashim Amla easing his way to an unbeaten 800 at The Oval, that excuse didn’t have much hope of success. The opening over of the match involved a lot well wide of the off stump, with the ball carrying through to Mills on the fifth bounce, but fortunately that was the only line which genuinely misbehaved on an otherwise fairly benign, soft wicket.
McLaughlin got the first breakthrough when he trapped Mo Chaudry (6) leg before, his only success of an excellent first spell up the hill. It wasn’t a great day for Chaudry, who was later whisked off to A and E clutching a suspected dislocated or broken thumb having bungled a chance in the field.
Qureshi was rested after four overs to make way for Stew ‘The Dragon’ Collinson. Colly’s first over was a bag of all sorts that even Bertie Bassett himself might regard as a bit too varied, but when he got it right, he found swing and a good line and length. He struck in his second over, bowling Sale through the gate for nought. Hook and Swain rallied for Offley, but Hook aimed a drive at Collinson which he never got hold of and Qureshi took a good tumbling catch at long off.
Mark Scanlan struggled to find his length early on, but he too struck in his third over when Hussain tamely patted a ball to Mik Carman at short cover. He might have had another when Swain edged one, but the ball didn’t quite carry, at least according to this correspondent, to Ashby in the slips. Scanner was controversially hauled off after his wicket taking third over so Lilley could see a glimpse of Ashley Davis’ leg spin before the midway drinks.
Post drinks saw another unusual sight in Ashby’s rarely aired off breaks. Ashby stifled the run rate from one end as Davis struck at the other, with Swain getting the finest of edges when trying to cut and Danny Mills snaring the catch. Mark Ward was no match for Ashby’s offies, as the rotund Ginger batsman misread one and was bowled comprehensively.
By now, Lilley were being treated to the bizarre sight of Offley King Pin Freeman hobbling between the wickets, moving something like Heather Mills painting her toenails. The official line was that he has picked up another phantom injury, presumably from over indulging in jaffa cakes or spooning with Latino. Either way, his injury seemed to ease as his score moved on, with a mixture of authentic cricket and tennis shots.
Qureshi bowled Chamberlain for 9 and McLaughlin eventually bowled Freeman for an important 36, with Offley finishing on 173-8 from 40 overs.
Lilley needed one of their main men to fire to chase the score down, but it wouldn’t be stand in skipper Ashby, who toed an ugly drive to deep mid off. Dan Mills and Ash Davis then set about building a platform, working the gaps well. They had put on 33 for the second wicket when Davis got one that kept a bit low and bowled the youngster, neither playing forward nor back, for 15.
Mills and the promoted Scanlan carried on the good work however and opener Mills (32) looked destined to convert the start into a half century. That was until he added to his collection of freakish dismissals this year, getting a back of the bat edge to ‘keeper Sale, who caught at the third attempt having demolished the stumps with his boots in the meantime.
Dan McLaughlin’s appalling record at Lilley continued soon after. Rather than looking at the first ball he faced from Large, he tried a strange spoon round the corner, succeeding only in spooning it up for ‘keeper Sale to complete the catch. Scanlan (15) looked well set, but he too aimed an injudicious shot at Large and succeeded only in offering a simple catch to leg gulley.
Jimmy Rainey’s debut with the bat didn’t last long as he was bowled without troubling the scorers by spinner Ward.
Steve McArdle, a surprise number six for Lilley, was joined by Qureshi and the pair set about dragging Lilley back into the game. McArdle, having worked around a few singles, had a big swipe at one from Large but didn’t quite get hold of it. “Oh shit!” shouted the batsman as the ball went in the air towards deep mid wicket, but you always have a chance at Lilley. The young fielder took a good catch, only to fall over the boundary and take the ball for six, Shuffler’s first ever! He was bowled by youngster Hussain not long after, but by then he had made 12, his highest score. And yes, we made him buy two jugs.
Collinson (2) was bamboozled by veteran Barker’s donkey drops and they did too for 2011 Clubman Of The Year Sam Burgess as she was bowled for nought, sparking wild celebrations from the strawberry blonde predator.
Qureshi found an able ally however in Mik Carman, who looked in fine fettle. The pair crunched boundaries and ran quick singles, to the point that there were suddenly a few nervous faces in the Offley field. They had put on 26 for the final wicket before Carman unfortunately mis-timed one and was caught at mid off for a breezy 17, Lilley all out for 134 off 30 overs, with Qureshi unbeaten on 21.
A real shame that one of the top order couldn’t kick on, but it was a good match played in good spirits. The Mansfield Towndrow Trophy stays with Offley then, with only pride to play for in September.