After last week’s easy win, an early season double-header against two of Division One’s perennial contenders was a decent opportunity for Ilkeston Rutland to mark themselves out as real contenders.
It ended in frustration – not because they didn’t play well, but because they didn’t play enough...and proved hopeless at reading the weather.
Within an hour of Rutland cancelling their match against Elvaston, the rain subsided, the sun came out and the ducks gathered on the outfield headed back to the lakes.
Just five miles up the road in Heanor, they were managing a full afternoon’s cricket.
The day before, on a grimly overcast afternoon at Duffield, Rutland had produced an assured batting display after winning the toss.
David Smit and Kevin Leatherday blunted a home attack that had blown Rutland away for 100 in the corresponding fixture last year.
The pair were approaching the century stand mark from 20 overs when Smit (54) played down the wrong line to seamer Philip Jordan and was LBW.
That drained the momentum from Rutland. The run rate slowed as George Moulds searched for form against Duffield’s two most accurate bowlers on the day – Jordan and off spinner Jono Clare.
The latter exerted a real stranglehold. His first seven overs conceded just five runs and that pressure brought rewards when, in the space of four balls, Leatherday (60) feathered an edge, then Moulds (9) miscued a drive.
Rob Green’s boundary and out innings was followed by a stand of 44 between Luke Marriott and Ian Banks who profited as light drizzle made the ball harder for Clare to control.
Rain forced the players off in the 46th over with Rutland on 217 for 5 and Marriott having made a breezy 46 from just 42 balls.
With almost two hours lost to rain, Rutland’s task on resumption was to either bowl out Duffield or deliver 45 overs in just over two hours.
Plan A began well with Green removing an opener and Ian Banks picking up two wickets to reduce Duffield to 37 for 3 after 16.
But Duffield’s left-handed captain Paul Bakel dug in and Rutland found themselves reaching for Plan B - racing through overs rather than trying to take wickets.
This tactic saw Tim Williscroft help himself to a rapid half-century before Rutland, fearing Duffield’s onslaught, brought Green back into the attack to steady the ship.
He duly dismissed Wiiliscroft and the time ran out with Duffield on 165 for 6 from 38 overs - Bakel unbeaten on 42.
And so Rutland gained 13 points from the abandonment and with a further six points from Sunday’s cancellation. That’s 45 points from their first four games – not bad, but the statistics suggest that sides need to average 17 points per game for promotion so there is much work to do when they next play on May 16.
Rutland II spent a miserable three hours fielding in the cold and drizzle on Saturday against Quarndon.
In difficult conditions both Chris Trueman Snr (1 for 46) and Richard Siddons (2 for 45) kept good control through 28 overs of the innings but things slipped badly in the final 10 overs as Quarndon keeper Louis Johnson smashed 50 from 37 balls.
It allowed Quarndon to end on 235 for 6 from their 46 overs when, with 10 overs to go, a score of 200 looked the height of their ambition.
Rutland’s openers, Ross Slater (101) and Matt Parry (60), laid an impressive base with a stand of 159 which had accelerated sufficiently to give Rutland real hope of a 27 point win.
But with 75 needed from the final 10 overs, both were undone by seamer Maghizh Anandan whose spell of 5 for 26 in the gathering gloom eased his side’s nerves and forced Rutland to settle for the draw, taking 11 points to Quarndon’s 16.
Radical changes were made to the 3rd XI’s batting order after last week’s 37 all out at Clowne with number 11 Bryan Smith promoted to open!
He responded with 44 as Rutland reached 190 against Codnor - Lee Bradley (21) and Grant Robertson (37) also contributing.
But with only nine players, defending anything was going to be a challenge and Codnor duly inflicted a third successive defeat on the 3rd XI, winning by six wickets with six overs to spare.