For the first time this season, relegation-threatened Ilkeston Rutland topped 200, batting first -- only for the weather gods to intervene and wash out the rest of their game against Sawley and Long Eaton Park.
The frustration leaves Rutland next to bottom in the First Division table, still 31 points behind Alfreton, the team they must overtake to avoid the drop and the team they face in a do-or-die duel at the Deer Park this Saturday. After that, there are just two games remaining.
Both Rutland and Sawley, the only team below them in the table, desperately needed a result from last weekend’s game. The visitors put Rutland in to bat on a strip already sodden by rain the previous Thursday night, and all eyes turned to David Smit.
Never has the pressure been greater on the star batsman, especially after his previous two innings had seen him score over half of the team’s totals (66 out of 121 and 103 out of 190). Smit duly delivered the goods again, firing a wonderful 97 in a total of 203-3. But this time, he was better supported too.
Opening partner Ian Banks (19) survived an easy caught-behind chance before hitting a six over extra cover and falling to a leaping one-handed grab by Danny Brown in the covers.
The score was already on 59 with Smit taking four boundaries from Jeff Glover’s gentle seamers. And he continued to dominate proceedings, hitting Rob Earlham for six before tucking into Michael Sibert’s leg-spin. Twenty was smashed off one over, including two more maximums towards the running track.
Smit’s dismissal from a tally of 149 came as a complete shock. A leg-spinner from Jordan Halford popped, took the glove and dropped back on to his stumps.
What was almost as great a surprise was that Rutland, who haven’t survived 50 overs batting first all season, kept going. Rob Green (29) and captain Luke Marriott (34) were both unbeaten when the rains came at the end of the 44th over, having added 54 for the fourth wicket against some testing bowling from Halford and Tom Beresford.
Marriott in particular showed glimpses of his true batting talent as he punished anything short of a length. How sad that the whole Rutland display should be worth only ten points when a full quota of 27 was so desperately required.
RAIN also washed out the Division Six South game at Etwall where Rutland’s relegation-threatened second XI had managed only 89, batting first. Amin Shafqat (29), Terry Gainey (19) and Vic Pilbeam (16) were the only players into double figures. However, the hosts were struggling on 41-4 from 18 overs when the heavens opened -- Richard Siddons taking 3-23. Rutland now have a must-win game on Saturday against fellow strugglers Rolls Royce.