Centurion Smit guides Rutland to victory

David Smit
David Smit

It was bound to happen sooner or later...no, not the start of the football season, but a league century for David Smit.

On Saturday, the inevitable became reality at West Park as the captain eased his side’s relegation fears by cruising to a 22-point win against fellow strugglers Sawley.

Despite being hampered by a hamstring injury to his main strike bowler Rob Green, Smit elected to put Sawley in to bat after he won the toss.

Thankfully, Green managed to reinvent himself into a left-arm version of his father Alan, pitching the ball with unerring accuracy at a gentle medium.

His method was economy personified - literally turning his arm over from a single stride... as was the end result - 12 runs came from his initial seven over spell.

In that time, he’d trapped opener Gary Birley LBW in his second over but after this Sawley consolidated effectively through their captain David Cameron and Richard Lawton who shared a 102-run stand before Green, returning for his second spell, had Lawton stumped for 62.

At this stage, Rutland profited from the tight lines bowled by Danny Bobeszko and Ian Banks. In the 30th over, with 112 for 2 on the board, Robert Owen attempted a suicidal single to Smit at cover and paid with his wicket.

Five overs later, the scoreboard still wasn’t ticking fast enough and Dave Eckersley perished in similar fashion.

Cameron remained and despite adding a further 49 in partnership with Paul Brunton (25), he was denied a grandstand finish - caught on the square leg boundary for 73 in the 45th over.

It meant Sawley closed on 203 for 7 which proved to be hopelessly inadequate once Smit started battering their bowlers.

The home side quickly turned to spin in a bid to stop the boundary flow but it couldn’t stop Smit and replacement opener Damian Jones adding 91 in just 13 overs.

The spinners had their moment removing Jones for 29 and Danny Shelton cheaply but once Luke Marriott joined Smit the carnage continued.

Victory was achieved with 17 overs to spare, Smit hitting a six to bring up his century, and leaving his partner Marriott on 49 not out from as many balls.

The win lifts Rutland above Sawley in Division One and 16 points clear of relegation. On Saturday they take on bottom side Staveley Welfare at the Rec.

Last Saturday, the Rec witnessed a major upset as Rutland’s struggling 2nd XI stunned promotion-chasing Belper Meadows with a two wicket win.

The match featured four impressive performances from teenage players - Vic Pilbeam, Joe Bird, Adam Slater and Lewis Jones.

Bowling first, Jones made the initial breakthroughs, removing both Belper openers - the second wicket a stunning one handed grab by a wrong-footed Pilbeam behind by the stumps.

Belper recovered and at 53 for 2, they looked poised to prevail but Bird clean bowled George Hudson and then Slater’s spin was introduced to devastating effect.

In his first over, he struck twice including the prize wicket of Belper’s captain Neil Horton -caught behind for 36.

From there on, there was no let up for Belper on a pitch offering plenty to the bowlers, and they were all out for 92, Bird taking 4 for 40 and Slater 4 for 11.

All that good work looked wasted, however, as Rutland, unsuccessful in every chase this year, faltered alarmingly.

At 52 for 7 the situation looked hopeless but Pilbeam, showing great composure, kept nudging his side closer to home.

He added 33 with Bird (14) and then held his nerve to strike the winning runs.

A game in hand means that promotion from Nine North remains in the hands of Rutland’s 3rd XI but they were bumped down to third place after losing by four wickets at Calow.

Put in to bat, they were all out for 159 in 38 overs and then watched as Calow put on 50 for the first wicket.

With Calow on 98 for 4, Rutland had half-a-chance but Gareth Mainprize, who had earlier taken 4 for 27, steered his side home with an unbeaten 20.

Any two from six sides could go up from Nine North so Rutland will want to resume winning ways when they take on Selston at Gallows on Saturday.

Rutland U15 captain Matt Parry impressed on two counts when he represented Erewash district against North Derbyshire on Friday.

After making 50 he gave himself out caught and bowled after neither umpire could be sure if the ball had been caught cleanly. It won him praise from the presiding officials who included Derbyshire umpire chief John Salisbury. The match at Killimarsh was later abandoned.