Summer officially started at the weekend - cloudless skies, sun screen all round and a win at last for Ilkeston Rutland’s 1st XI.
Let us hope their points gained continue to reflect the prevailing temperature, for, having not secured more than single figures so far, they returned from Matlock with 27.
The lost toss may have worked to Rutland’s advantage for Matlock’s skipper and best batsman, Kevin Leatherday, couldn’t resist the conditions and batted.
His side were soon in trouble, struggling to make any inroads against tight bowling from Rob Green (1-31 from 15 overs) and Chris Trueman Jnr.
By the 11th over, he was back in the pavilion - caught behind, pushing at Green.
Their South African overseas player Vassili Orros was the third wicket to fall, clean bowled by one that nipped back from Sam Moulds to leave Matlock 45-3 from 14 overs.
They recovered through a stand of 95 runs between opener Ashley Drayner (71) and Steve Pell (52), which took 30 overs but allowed them leeway to have a swing towards the end, closing on 183-8.
Rutland’s target was considerably in excess of their season’s best (153) but a much improved effort saw them over the line.
After the early departure of Michael Chambers, David Smit was joined by Luke Marriott and the latter took the attack to Matlock, hitting 31 from 40 balls and putting Rutland ahead of the required run rate.
After an indifferent start to the season, Smit was watchful, grimly determined to see in the victory but he edged behind on 33 and his side were 89-4 and the game was in the balance.
It was calmly put to bed by a pair of partnerships both featuring Ian Banks.
He put on 52 with Green (18) and a further 30 with Moulds (26 not out) and when he was given LBW for 38, only 13 were needed from five overs.
The morale boosting fourwicket win moved Rutland off the foot of Division One and a win away from being in the top half of the table.
A perfect weekend for Rutland was only spoilt by a double dose of disappointment for the club’s second XI.
Particularly painful was their fifth consecutive losing draw in the league, this one in a home fixture against Denby 3rd XI, the only side below them in Five North.
Batting first, the visitors could do no more than survive against the spin of Richard Siddons, who opened the attack and set the game up for his side with 14 overs costing just 26 runs.
Denby’s inability to score from his end forced them to attack the ultra slow mix delivered by Darren Hooley, who cashed in with his best figures for his new club (6-53).
He was supported by some good catching but two all-important chances went begging. Denby’s captain Ian Glenn had not scored when he skied Hooley into the covers only for the fielder to lose it in the sun and before he’d reached double figures he was dropped at long on off the same bowler. Glenn was unbeaten on 53 at the end, enabling his side to reach 144-9.
Rutland lost opener David Robinson to the first ball of their innings but seemingly had the game in their grasp with two partnerships, both featuring a cramp-plagued captain Gary Hickingbotham, taking the score past the hundred mark.
The lack of running between the wickets meant that despite a breezy 32 from Ken Seaman, the run rate was creeping up to a run-a-ball when Ross Slater (22) was caught attempting to hit spinner Ian Burgoyne (3 for 31) over the top.
The captain’s vigil (42) was ended soon afterwards and despite some hitting from Hooley and James Fearnside, Rutland finished on 141-5, three short of a 27-point win.
The next day they exited the cup at Allestree, being bowled all out for 83 and watching the home side romp home by seven wickets.
Rutland’s 3rd XI enjoyed a 27-point win at Clowne Town thanks to a man of the match performance from Kyle Madison.
He compensated for running out opener Matt Parry with a patient innings of 79 as Rutland posted 167-9. Madison (5-34) then helped blow Clowne away with the ball.