Clashes between Ilkeston and Alfreton invariably prove to be dramatic affairs and Saturday’s game at Alfreton Park exceeded expectations with Rutland managing to lose from a position of utter dominance.
After 21 overs, the hosts, who had been put into bat on a strip of rolled mud, had been reduced to 38 for 7 through a combination of accurate bowling, competent catching and inept batting.
Rutland, who were without their leading wicket taker Sam Moulds, could hardly believe their luck.
Rob Green (4 for 27) and Michael Chambers (3-31) maintained pressure from both ends and with catches being held and the bonus run out by Ryan Clarke of Alfreton’s pro, an early finish seemed likely.
Survival, however, on such a slow pitch, was within the grasp of lesser batsmen and Alfreton’s tail proved the point by hanging around until the 43rd over to muster 95. Their top-scorer was number ten Stuart McRobert whose 29 would prove vital.
After an awful start to the season where they lost four of their first five games, Alfreton are now on a roll thanks to the arrival of their Pakistani pace bowler, Bhaliwal Bhatti.
But there was no hint of the carnage that he would cause as Rutland’s openers David Smit and Ross Slater moved the score along to 29 in the 11th over when Slater was given LBW to one of Bhatti’s many attempted yorkers.
Before that moment, his strike rate coming down Alfreton’s hill had been taking a wicket every 31 balls. After that moment he struck every five deliveries.
His strength was bowling very straight and very full and seven of his nine victims were bowled with the others LBW.
Crucial was the dismissal of Smit. He had been carrying Rutland to victory with a careful 36 when he missed a Bhatti full toss and was bowled off his pads.
At that stage just 26 were required with five wickets remaining. But only three more runs were added in a collapse dramatic even by Rutland’s standards.
Bhatti, who hails from Lahore, ended with 9 for 36.
l Rutland’s 2nd XI secured an important victory to lift them out of Division 4 North’s relegation zone.
It is testimony to the appalling summer that their visitors, Ambergate, had only completed three matches all year before Saturday and this game could easily have been cancelled such was the sodden state of the Rec.
Batting first, Rutland were boosted by Richard Kelleher who overcame the conditions with 51.
He built on the earlier work of Ian Banks (30) and Darren Cundy (27) and 157 for 9 represented a challenging target.
Ambergate lost wickets at regular intervals and folded to 101 all out with Banks taking 5 for 24 and Chris Palfreyman 3 for 11.
l After two wins in a row it was back to the drawing board for Rutland’s 3rd XI who were comprehensively beaten at Mickleover.
The home side declared after 39 overs having made 220 for 4 with Jack Hodgkinson (66) and Jack Hearne (67 not out) the main contributors.
Rutland were soon staring defeat in the face at 37 for 7 in the 17th over with only Lee Bradley (17) reaching double figures.
The game was almost saved by a truly eccentric partnership between the spinners Bryan Smith and Tom Bobeszko.
They survived for 28 overs without scoring a run off the bat before Nauman Zafar (4 for 8) dismissed Bobeszko.
The rest of the batting crumbled quickly giving Mickleover victory by 160 runs.