With the Erewash election count spread over three days, Rutland Sports Park was closed to cricket at the weekend giving Ilkeston Rutland’s first XI a week off.
Other results saw them slip to joint sixth in Division One after four games played – 25 points from early pace-setters Rolleston.
Their next game, at home on Saturday, is against Clifton, the side with whom they share sixth place.
Fortunately, there was no shortage of drama from the second XI’s trip to the early leaders of Division Six South - Alvaston and Boulton thirrd XI.
Controversy and courage were both on show and represented by the two captains, both tough characters in the advanced stage of their respective careers.
It was A&B’s Steve Ottewell who won the toss and put Gary Hickinbotham’s Rutland in on a wet wicket which made stroke-playing a dangerous game.
For most of their innings, Rutland, who boasted their strongest batting line-up of the season, held the upper-hand and several times it looked as though a partnership would blossom to break A&B’s will.
But every time Rutland spied the sunny uplands, up popped that man Ottewell to push them back into the darkness of the valley.
He came on to bowl in the 13th over with Rutland comfortable at 52 for 1 and his first delivery was a sign of the drama to come. Hit cleanly back at him by Andy Flindall (27), he juggled it at least four times before clinging on.
Another partnership threatened but Ross Slater (42) miscued an ill-advised drive and Ottewell was under the catch.
Rutland then enjoyed a period of dominance with David Robinson and Darren Cundy adding 50 in less than eight overs before Ottewell struck again.
This time, Robinson had played a delightful late cut to the dangerous off-spinner Jude de Rose but slipped attempting the third run.
Spying the opportunity, Ottewell rushed to the bowlers’ stumps, spilled the return and saw it bounce fortunately off his hands and into the stumps. On TV it would have ‘gone upstairs’ but Rutland’s umpire gave it out and a disconsolate Robinson departed for 45.
As wickets fell, Rutland’s last chance of going beyond 200 was Richard Kelleher but he walked after nicking one from you know who for 27.
With 188 to defend, Rutland, who conceded 235 last week, were nervous but they got off to a dream start courtesy of captain courageous Hickinbotham.
Parking his ample frame at short cover and eschewing any artificial protection, he pulled off a truly extraordinary catch when A&B opener Faizudin Oriakhail creamed a cover drive straight at him.
The bullet of a ball splintered Hickinbotham’s left elbow but he somehow held onto it with his right hand leaving everyone aghast and Oriakhail to trudge off in a daze.
Even more remarkable, Hickinbotham, who was later hit on the chin by another shot, continued to captain the team as though nothing untoward had happened.
His stunner gave Rutland confidence and A&B soon found themselves losing wickets on the sticky surface to some accurate bowling from Chris Trueman Snr (4 for 26) and Kieran York (2 for 39).
They had slid to 55 for 6 when Ottewell arrived, added 56 with Moneeb Ilyas and put the game back in the balance.
Richard Siddons, who had just dropped a return chance from Ilyas, clean bowled him in his next over for 52 and Rutland again spied 27 points.
They were thwarted, inevitably, by Ottewell. With four overs left, he appeared to snick one as he swished at York but the catch behind was not awarded by the A&B umpire and Ottewell remained.
In the final over, he did depart for 48 but by then the match was safe and his side remain top of the table, taking 11 points to Rutland’s 17.
A depleted Rutland third XI lost heavily at Spondon.
Batting first they crawled to 60 and were only all out in the final 40th over with opener Bryan Smith unbeaten on 25.
Spondon strolled home by seven wickets in the 20th over.