After a week of riots in the country and with a deep sense of desperation in the air, there was no shortage of doom-mongers predicting devastation when Ilkeston Rutland, minus David Smit, visited Sandiacre on Saturday.
A mighty 220 points separated the two sides at the start of the day’s play and the only fear from Sandiacre’s perspective was of the mob somehow overturning the established order.
In the event, neither of these two extremes occurred. Sandiacre won to maintain their title challenge and Rutland left Longmoor Lane with dignity intact.
Rob Green chose to bat first, promoting Tom Brandrick to open with Alex Park, and neither lasted long.
Sandiacre were without their main strike bowler, Ryan McFadyean, so it was Dan Wheeldon who did the early damage.
The innings was given some stability by Luke Marriott (33) and Andy Flindall (25), who were elevated up the order and fully justified it, both playing positive cricket against the challenge of Wheeldon and John Jordison.
Once they were separated, scoring slowed as the spin of John Trueman (3 for 20 from 12 overs) ate away at Rutland’s run-rate.
Of the later batsmen, only Ian Banks (33) and Green (25 not out) reached double figures but Rutland did last their full 50 overs posting 157 for 9.
Hopes of rattling Sandiacre’s cage were stirred when James Lockhart had Trueman caught behind in his second over but James Chapman (39) and Tom Priestley (38) settled everyone down.
Both were removed by spinner Danny Bobeszko who picked up 3 for 37 but the result was no more in doubt – Sandiacre cruising home by five wickets with 15 overs to spare.
Adrift at the bottom, at least Rutland have completed their Sandiacre and Ockbrook fixtures.
Against everyone else, hope springs and with lowly Lullington Park and Alfreton to play in the next two weeks it is do or die time.
After registering just three points from their last two games, Rutland’s 2nd XI needed to stop the rot when they entertained Heanor Town at the Rec.
This they managed but first they endured the ignominy of bowling 45 overs without taking a wicket.
Teenagers Alistair Dixon (117) and Josh Brear (98) would have lasted the entire innings had Brear not been run out attempting a single from the final ball of the penultimate over.
This allowed Chris Trueman Jnr, the only Rutland bowler to exert any control, to take a well-deserved wicket as Heanor closed on 248 for 2.
The wicket was a beauty and batsmen had to get themselves out rather than be undone by great deviations off the surface.
Rutland’s batsmen did just this, gifting their wickets in the search for quick runs. At 69 for 6 in the 18th over, another disaster loomed large.
They were saved by Chris Palfreyman. Not often does he go wicketless and he was determined to make up for it with the bat.
He had one huge slice of luck when Heanor’s batting hero Dixon dropped a dolly but in general he was the Gladiator – standing tall and swatting ball after ball to the boundary.
His unbeaten 91 contained 20 fours and in a 40-run stand with Adam Slater and a 62-run partnership with Alan Chambers (23) he saved Rutland’s blushes.
Much more is required for Rutland to escape relegation but nine points from a losing draw is a start.
The most exciting game of the weekend was the 3rd XI’s clash with Sawley at West Park.
It remained in the balance until the final over with Sawley finishing five runs short of Rutland’s 164 with just one wicket remaining.
The game will be remembered for two outstanding individual performances by juniors.
Sawley’s Aum Parekh took 4 for 47 and then made an unbeaten 84 while Rutland’s left arm spinner Tom Bobeszko recorded the season’s best senior figures with 7 for 41.
Had Rutland not shelled so many catches, this game would have been won with ease but their failure to collect a maximum 27 points means their plight remains perilous.