Ilkeston Rutland’s first XI moved off the foot of Division One on Saturday after their best batting effort of the season secured a winning draw against Rolleston.
A positive result was crucial for Rutland whose remaining July fixtures pit them against three of the top four teams in the division, and means they have gained 44 points in a fortnight.
Asked to bat first, Rutland saw off the opening bowlers with a 54-run partnership.
A change to the attack brought Rolleston reward. David Smit (25) snicked one from Alex Brown and the scoreboard slowed as the seamer strung together six maidens in seven overs and removed Michael Chambers for 30.
With 22 overs remaining, Rutland were on 87 for 3 and their innings desperately needed some fireworks before the finish. These were provided by Rob Green who smashed five sixes in an unbeaten 66 from 55 balls.
He was partnered along the way by Luke Marriott (27), Ian Banks (30) and Damien Jones (18 not out) - all scoring at a run-a-ball.
Green then took the new ball in Rutland’s defence of 233 for 5, and took 4 for 47 as he delivered his 15 overs without a break.
It was far from a one-man show. Spinner Danny Bobeszko had the dangerous Tom Liversage caught behind and Rutland held some sharp catches - the best a diving one-handed effort by Smit at slip to give Green his fourth.
But with 20 overs left and Green out of the attack, Rolleston just needed under seven runs an over with five wickets left.
Critical catches were spilled and they rallied through Alex Britton (54) and Sam Cobley (42). Rutland, however, held their nerve. Chris Treuman Jnr removed Britton and Bobeszko added two more wickets at the death as Rolleston closed on 220 for 9.
On Sunday, the two sides clashed again in the quarter-final of the Marston’s Cup. Batting first on their home ground, Rolleston openers, Gary Marshall and James Ede, began with caution.
In the first ten overs they did not hit the ball off the square, made just 19 runs and only challenged Rutland with tip and run tactics. They built gradually yet ominously, offering no chances and running like hares between the wickets.
Rutland had to wait until the 29th over for a breakthrough - third team skipper Jeff Dunbar deceiving Ede in the flight to give Vic Pilbeam a simple stumping.
Dunbar, with 1 for 24 from his six overs, was the pick of Rutland’s bowlers and may consider himself unfortunate not to have bowled more. No-one was posing problems on the featherbed track and Rolleston’s Tom Liversage took advantage with an impressive 81 from 66 balls.
With ten overs left, Rolleston accelerated from 177 for 1 to close on 269 for 4, their captain Marshall carrying his bat for an unbeaten 106.
Rutland needed something special and they nearly found it thanks to Smit’s first century of the season. He kept his side in touch until the 43rd over when Mohammed Zaroob clipped his off stump.
Apart from his 125, only Green (36) and Ross Slater (17) made double figures and Rolleston were worthy winners by 60 runs.
Rutland’s 2nd XI let a winning position slip at Ashover and remain bottom of Five North.
Steady seam bowling from Joe Bird (2 for 35) and Mark Kilday (3 for 47) reduced the home side to 88 for 6 but a change to spin on the spongy track allowed Ashover to rebuild through the lower order and reach 167.
Rutland soon found themselves 27 for 6 and in danger of a record breaking low. With seemingly only pride to play for, teenagers Lewis Jones and Vic Pilbeam enjoyed a 67-run stand before Pilbeam (16) was caught.
Jones, meanwhile, continued to smash boundaries and, passing 50, he brought the unlikeliest of victories into sight. Just 47 were needed from nine overs when he was cruelly judged run out for 66. The final wicket soon fell to give Ashover a 44-run win.
Rutland’s 3rd XI maintained their promotion challenge in Division Nine North, beating Spondon’s 4th XI by five wickets at Gallows.
The visitors made only 90 as Ainsley Hallam blew away their top order with 5 for 17 while the welcome return of Alex Watson’s wobblers accounted for the tail.
Three wickets in three overs by Spondon’s Kev Bunting momentarily put matters in doubt but captain Jeff Dunbar’s unbeaten 33 sealed the 22 points.
Rutland’s U15s enjoyed a rare win over Sandiacre, chasing down 121 in the 20 over game.
Matt Parry with 51 was the top scorer but Harry Chester (26), Joel Howes (19) and Ryan Woods (10) all contributed to the win, sealed with two balls to go by Adam Ball and Jay Baker.