Eckington are a tough nut to crack for Ilkeston

The first sunshine of the summer also saw Ilkeston Rutland suffer their first reverse of the season – a losing draw at Eckington.

Captain Rob Green hoped for early breakthroughs after inviting the opposition to make first use of a hard, flat surface where the small boundaries and fast outfield suggested a high-scoring encounter.

Eckington’s openers were made to work hard for their runs by some accurate new ball bowling by Green and Sam Moulds.

After 20 overs they had just 58 runs and when Rutland’s first choice pair returned to bowl the final ten overs with the score on 151 for 2, a policy of containment looked to have been achieved.

Instead, Eckington captain Tom Dawson took his opposite number for two consecutive straight sixes as his side piled up 91 from the last ten overs to reach a challenging 241 for 5.

Given conditions, it should have been within Rutland’s radius but for the first time this year David Smit failed to make a half-century, bowled for 19 by one that kept a little low.

It was then Eckington’s two left-arm spinners who stamped their authority on the game with their 30 overs going for just 83 runs and bringing five wickets – four for man of the match Adam Leonard.

The required run rate was soon ballooning and with wickets falling regularly, Eckington sensed a 27-point victory as they brought back their South African opening bowler Anton Van Dam for a final burst.

He was left to rue his drop of Luke Marriott earlier in the afternoon.

Rutland’s number three batted for over two and a half hours for a match saving 77, flicking van Dam’s final delivery for six over square leg.

Rutland closed on 183 for 7 to claim eight points to Eckington’s 18, the home side remaining the early leaders in Division One.

The result keeps Ilkeston fourth in the table but with big matches coming up against fellow leading contenders Stainsby Hall and Clifton, their season is reaching a crucial stage.

Match details:

Eckington (18pts) 242-5 [50 overs] (L Staniforth 43, P Blair 53, T Dawson 45, A Van Dam 51) drew with Ilkeston Rutland (7pts) 183-7 [50 overs] (L Marriott 77, A Leonard 4-44)