Shipley Hall defy hat-trick and rain to go 17 points clear at top

STARR BATSMAN -- Shipley Hall opener Mark Starr, who cracked 35.
STARR BATSMAN -- Shipley Hall opener Mark Starr, who cracked 35.

Top-of-the-table Shipley Hall survived a hat-trick and defied the wet weather to strengthen their chances of landing the Third Division title in the Derbyshire County League.

On a day when most matches were washed out by rain, Shipley waited patiently for it to stop and when it did, they pulled off the covers, forked the playing area and sprinkled the sawdust to enable the umpires to give the go-ahead for a start at 3.20 pm, and a 26-over contest.

They might have been regretting the decision when they were put into bat and slid to 75-6 and 94-7 as Matthew Tracey, second-change bowler for already-relegated visitors Abbots Bromley, took three wickets with successive balls.

But they ended up on 169-7 to secure a winning draw and 15 points from the match, which took them 17 points clear at the top with one fixture remaining -- at home to Marehay 2nd on Saturday, September 17. Second-placed Derby Congregational have two to play, beginning with a trip to Abbots Bromley this weekend.

All seemed to be going to plan initially for Shipley as openers Mark Starr (37) and Neil Parkin (25) batted aggressively, and James Parkin continued the good work with 35. However, the introduction of Tracey (6-26) changed things dramatically, and the leaders looked to be heading for a shock defeat until they were rescued by a tremendous, unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 75 between Matthew Starr and Jaco Van Greunen, who clubbed three successive sixes.

In reply, Abbots Bromley lost two early wickets but recovered to bat steadily and end on 88-5, with Martin Weston making 27.