A comfortable eight wicket win against struggling Ambergate saw Ilkeston Rutland’s first XI into the Divison One promotion places for the first time since they exited the Premier League in 2011.
Vice-captain Luke Marriott and recalled Darren Cundy shared a 118-run partnership to polish a performance that had gathered dust from the moment Rutland won the toss and chose to field.
Perhaps they had looked at the visitors’ recent record and were hoping for an early finish….a chance to catch the end of the FA Cup Final?
Winless Ambergate’s recent tallies have been 102, 41 and 103. The following day they managed just 89 in a 261-run cup defeat and yet on Saturday they made 198 for 6 against an attack that should be among the best in the division.
It was all going to plan when, in the second over, Chris Trueman Jnr took the edge of opener Mark Heath’s bat.
He would have had a second wicket but David Whiteley’s edge was put down in the slips and he made Rutland pay with an unbeaten 108.
More catches were shelled during a streaky fifth wicket stand of 117 between Whiteley and Shazad Ahmed (41) and it was Rutland’s good fortune that their standards slipped against opposition who were not good enough to truly take advantage.
Trueman’s opening spell of 2 for 12 from nine overs had set the tone and it wasn’t until the 38th over that Ambergate’s run rate topped three.
Rutland were never truly troubled during their chase. They lost David Smit to a run out for 14 and Kevin Leatherday LBW for 35 but it will have pleased everyone to see others taking responsibility.
Cundy, deputising at number three for the injured George Moulds, began with great caution but blossomed in partnership with Marriott, to reach an unbeaten 67, his best ever score for the 1st XI.
Marriott was more cavalier, blasting his unbeaten 55 from just 42 balls and bringing up the 22 points with 12 overs, and a little of the FA Cup Final, remaining.
On Sunday, the first XI made three changes and were dumped out of the Marston’s Cup by Marehay.
Batting first, they found themselves in real trouble against a depleted opposition attack and at 109 for 7, only Smit (37) had gone beyond 20.
Their blushes were spared by a partnership of 78 between Danny Bobeszko (52 not out) and youngster Franklin Henshaw (25) whose comfort in playing the Marehay attack suggested something had gone very awry earlier in the innings.
Once Henshaw (25) miscued Jonathan Bradder’s spin to end the stand, the end came quickly with Rutland all out for 198.
It was not nearly enough - Marehay’s openers Ross Perry-Taylor (57) and Ben Gartside (111) sealed the win with a 171-run partnership.
Rutland’s 2nd XI lost for the first time this season after going into a game with only two reliable bowlers.
Put into bat by Derby Congs on a spongy, popping wicket they began painfully slowly, scoring only 12 from the first ten overs.
Wickets fell just as partnerships threatened to develop and their total of 185-6 was based around Ross Slater’s unbeaten 95.
It looked way too many for lowly Derby Congs who found the wicket equally awkward and collapsed to 49 for 6 and then 76 for 7 by the half-way drinks’ break.
Everything changed once Chris Trueman Snr (3 for 39) and Richard Siddons (4 for 42) had completed their 14 over spells and Sultan Azam and Umer Farooq added a match-winning century stand with embarrassing ease.
The 3rd XI are still looking for a first league win after failing to chase down 151 against local rivals Stanton at Gallows.
Batting first, the visitors lost two early wickets but were steadied by a third wicket stand between Mark Aldred (39) and Tom Henshaw (42).
Once Aldred was bowled by Bryan Smith, Rutland wrested back control with Grant Robertson (4 for 18) proving successful against the lower order.
Rutland’s chase began steadily with openers, Smith (25) and Lee Bradley (27) adding 47 from 14 overs, but the introduction of Tom Henshaw changed all that.
He took a game-changing 5 for 20 and Rutland were left to thank teenagers Adam Ball (14 not out) and Tom Lowe for holding firm for the last eight overs to secure a losing draw at 117 for 8.