Quite what will become of Ilkeston Rutland first XI’s 2015 campaign remains a total mystery.
A run of seven positive results from eight games made them promotion probabilities in early July but just one win from their last six has them flirting with mid-table mediocrity.
The weather accounts for two of the disappointments but most maddening for their supporters is their ability to throw away winning positions.
On Saturday, promotion rivals Rolleston were the visitors and they struggled after being put in to bat.
Openers Gareth Marshall, a centurion against Rutland last year, and Matt Ford survived the first hour but it was the ball that was in control, particularly when bowled by Rob Green.
He had Ford dropped at slip and reward didn’t come until his tenth over when Marshall misjudged a leave and saw his off pole knocked back.
Ford (31) had begun to show attacking intent but he was run out in Green’s next over – the bowler chasing down a nudged single and direct hitting from mid-wicket.
In his 12th over, the Green show continued – Mohammed Zaroob’s was caught off a miscued drive and two balls later Richard Green edged to David Smit at slip.
At 69-4 in the 23rd over, Rolleston were in deep waters but the game changed with a partnership of 112 between Tom Liversage (78) and Alex Britton (47).
Both had fine knocks but a harsher verdict would be that once Green had completed his 15 over stint, the back-up bowling lacked penetration.
Spin is the obvious option now the wickets are a little bouncier but Danny Bobeszko’s form has deserted him and he bowled just three overs as Rolleston pulled themselves out of the mire.
George Moulds (3 for 64) dismissed both the run-getters but Rolleston ended on 226-9.
The underwhelming target soon looked slightly bigger. Smit, Rutland’s best batsman, is going through a bad run for him (no half century for a month) and, as so often happens, bad luck was about to follow.
Having hit two boundaries from the first over, he appeared to be struck high on the thigh pad but was then given out caught at slip after a delay.
Moulds fought hard but Graham Dent yorked him for 11 and then took out Luke Marriott’s stumps to make it 63-3.
Kevin Leatherday was looking fluent and the scoreboard had just started to whirr rather nicely when he picked out point with a cut and was gone for 34.
Green had already found his range with a couple of boundaries and a six and as the target came down to 100 required he just needed someone to stick around.
There were six candidates but none of them lasted long enough to make a difference and Green was the last one out for 56 in a 60-run defeat.
Now Rutland need positive results from all their remaining four games to have even a slim chance of promotion.
Rutland’s 2nd XI thrashed bottom side Lullington Park by 199 runs on Saturday after declaring on 326-2 from 40 overs.
It proved a wise move from stand-in skipper Richard Siddons as it took Rutland until the 47th over to dismiss their opponents.
Teenagers Alex Cooper (35 not out) and Will Derry (22) looked set to deny them with a fighting eighth wicket stand but another teenager, Muhammad Ali Amin, intervened taking a wicket in his first over of adult cricket. He then repeated the trick in his second over to help Rutland secure 27 points.
Earlier Ross Slater had taken advantage of some friendly bowling to post a personal best of 172 not out.
The 2nd XI’s best ever cup run came to an end on Sunday after they were beaten by Belper Amateurs in the Wright Cup semi-final.
Earlier they easily beat Staveley Welfare after Chris Trueman Snr had both Bullimore brothers caught by Ryan Yallop at cover in the first over as they chased 141.
Despite posting 148 against Belper, thanks to an excellent 65 from Adam Slater, their bowlers could not defend it as Chris Maleham struck an unbeaten 67.
Rutland 3rd XI’s big weekend turned into a big let down. as a losing draw in a game they needed to win against Stanton-by-Dale on Saturday was followed by disappointment in the final of the Harry Lund Cup against Rolls Royce.
Chasing 150 for the first silverware of the century, they were soon 12 for 3 with both their potential match-winners and all of their hopes gone.