The heroics of the club’s record run-scorer, David Smit, kept alive the slim chances of Ilkeston Rutland avoiding relegation from Division One of the Derbyshire County League.
Opener Smit scored a magnificent century to help Rutland prise a 16-point winning draw out of mid-table Stainsby Hall. And his knock of 103 in a total of 190 also enabled the Ilkeston side to creep a little closer to safety.
They remain next to bottom in the table but now sit 30 points adrift of the team above them, Alfreton, whom they face in a real crunch match on Saturday September 3. Before then, they have another must-win game, at home to bottom team Sawley and Long Eaton Park this weekend.
Smit’s ton was the difference between the two sides after Rutland’s notoriously fragile batting line-up had been put in by Stainsby Hall. Modestly, he said after the game that the pitch had been at its best when the action started because the damp allowed the ball to skid on to the bat.
Rutland did indeed get off to a flier. After ten overs, they had reached 70 for the loss only of George Moulds (20), who had helped Smit put on a healthy 56 for the first wicket. Moulds became the first of eight batsmen in the innings, and 13 in the match, to be caught behind, giving wicketkeepers James Gregson and Vic Pilbeam a busy day.
Number three bat Ken Seaman (14), whose six-ball cameo featured two straight fours and one straight six, departed in the same way before Rob Green (12) dragged on attempting a cover drive. Smit, meanwhile, continued to thwart Stainsby. They dropped him in his 30s, but he cashed in as wickets fell around him, finally being the sixth to fall with the score on 179.
His 112-ball 103 contained eight boundaries and a six -- testimony to the watchful nature of the innings -- and only 11 runs were added after his dismissal as Rutland again failed to bat out their full quota of 50 overs. Indeed, after Green, no other batsman reached double figures as Stainsby bowlers Matt Smyth (5-48 in 13 overs) and Amir Iqbal (3-50 in nine overs) cashed in.
Rutland’s total was a competitive one, though, and they soon sensed victory after tea as Green (2-31 in 15 overs) and Aidan Smith (3-50 in 13 overs) reduced the visitors to 13-3, causing havoc with the new ball on the drying surface.
However, two gritty partnerships, both featuring Chris Hamp (56), took Stainsby to the safety of a losing draw. Hamp batted from the seventh to the 51st over, adding 45 with Smyth (23) and 79 with James Gregson (34) before finally falling to a catch by Smit.
Stainsby briefly flirted with going for the win but eventually finished with 163-8 at the end of their 53 overs, although a total of 28 wides meant Rutland actually bowled almost 58 overs at them.
RUTLAND 2nd had their Division Four South game at Swarkestone cancelled, while the third team lost to Washlands in Division Ten North. Their total of 116-7, featuring 33no from Adam Ball, was not enough to deny their hosts, who triumphed by five wickets in the hands of captain Jeff Wardle (50no).