If the opening fixture to Ilkeston Rutland’s 2014 season is a sign of things to come then by September players and supporters alike may have gone bald, having torn their hair out.
Their trip to Rolleston on Saturday should have represented a flying start - a toss won, a game dominated but a negative result.
Put in to bat, Rolleston struggled. The sun may have shone but this is April and not so long since their Willows ground was a lake so strokeplay was difficult.
Captain David Smit’s tactic of opening with Danny Bobeszko’s off breaks worked well - just two runs coming from his first four overs followed by the wicket of opener Mark James - caught at slip by Luke Marriott.
Rolleston were stuck in second gear, able to survive but rarely prosper against accurate bowling exemplified by Ian Banks - 10 overs, 2 for 23.
With eight overs left of their 50, the home side were still limping along at less than three runs per over with opener Gareth Marshall having only just reached a half century.
The fact that they then added 63 to close on 184 for 7 prompts many questions for Rutland’s death bowling strategy.
Credit though should go to Rolleston as their middle order contributed with Alex Britton (33) and Scott Cobley (23) building on Marshall’s painstaking 72.
Rutland’s reply was the exact opposite in terms of structure - beginning breezily but ending in virtual paralysis.
Despite losing Smit early on, Banks (29 from 31 balls), Michael Chambers and Rob Green laid what seemed an invincible platform.
It wasn’t easy but Chambers and Green were doing plenty to keep the chase in cruise control.
In the 30th over, Green (30) had hit two boundaries off seamer Mohammad Zaroob but perished seeking a third - caught at cover.
It left Rutland needing 73 runs from 20 overs with seven wickets left. A simple equation but when Chambers was caught and bowled by Nelson in the next over, one could almost feel the confidence ebbing away.
What followed was a slow disintegration with the remainder of the batsmen managing just 41 runs from the last 20 overs and Rutland clinging on grimly to a losing draw at 153 for 9. It gave them eight points from a game where they should have had 22.
Rutland’s 2nd XI begain their new life in Divison 5 North by being walloped around the Rec by visitors Ashover.
It started hopefully with opening bowlers Joe Bird and Lewis Jones removing Ashover’s openers within the first five overs.
Had Luke White then clung onto what would have been a stunning catch to remove Roger Bolstridge with his score on two, things might have turned out differently.
Instead Bolstridge (111) took advantage of some short bowling to rattle up a century and with Elliot Dickens (64) and Russell Cooke (43), Ashover posted an imposing 270 for 6 from their 46 overs.
Rutland’s response was impressive. Last year’s batsman of the year David Robinson and the returning Andy Flindall put on 100 for the first wicket in just 18 overs before Flindall was unfortunate to be given out LBW for 46.
Robinson continued to play elegantly, hitting 12 fours and a six in his 78 but when he was caught off Bolstridge, Rutland decided to shut up shop.
New skipper Gary Higginbotham stonewalled impressively for an unbeaten 23 accumulated through 25 overs of patience.
Of Ashover’s bowlers only man of the match Bolstridge with 5 for 26 had any success and Rutland ended on 180 for 5, taking nine points from the game.
Rutland’s 3rd XI were put in to bat by Spondon’s 4th XI and managed 160 for 7 with Lee Bradley (30), Danny Law (38) and youngster Sam Purdy (20) the main contributors.
It proved to be insufficient as opener Steve Baines crashed an unbeaten 87 to bring up a six wicket win with 12 overs to spare
For Rutland, only Tom Lowe (2 for 26) and Ainsley Hallam (2 for 29) had any success.