Cuckney moved to the summit of the Nottinghamshire Premier League table with a hard earned home victory against local rivals Mansfield Hosiery Mills. With Clifton falling to a somewhat surprising defeat at the hands of Plumtree, the North Notts side leapfrogged Clifton by successfully chasing down a score of 189-5.
Having won the toss and elected to field, Cuckney’s opening bowlers were eager to apply early pressure. Although the hosts struggled to break the opening wicket partnership between Gareth Curtis and Matt New, the visitors were stifled on a wet track, and only amassed 15 runs in the opening 12 overs. The first boundary of the day wasn’t the most spectacular either, as a rare loose delivery from Tom Driver was slashed over Ian Parkin’s head at slip and raced to the fence. Shortly afterwards though, New began to find the middle of the bat more often and a sumptuous straight drive for four drew generous applause from the supporters who braved the cool May breeze. He also secured the first maximum of the day with some brutal bottom hand off the bowling of spinner, Dave France. The shot momentarily caused play to be stopped on another of Cuckney’s pitches while the ball was retrieved from the field. The hosts finally claimed their first wicket with the score on 87. Curtis, who had registered an impressive 280 runs in his 4 innings before this match, failed to time the ball sweetly throughout his innings and eventually holed out to Nic Geisler on the boundary for 31 (93).
Matt New was not deterred though and alongside his brother Tom, a former Leicestershire and Unicorns player, marched on to make 62 runs. He met his match when another flighted Ian Parkin ball lured the batsman into a tentative chip which Geisler pouched once again. The fiery derby atmosphere was then cranked up a notch when Parkin alleged that a reverse sweep from Tom New flicked a glove on its way through to the keeper. Some unsavoury words were exchanged between the pair as the bowler questioned whether the Millers captain was playing the game in the right spirit. Nevertheless, the visitors weren’t given the run of the mill in the closing overs as the innings threatened to further peter out as Smallwood (16), Jayasinghe (7) and Rodgers (4) were all late casualties. New did provide some temporary fireworks for his side with a Dilshan inspired scoop for six off the innings’ penultimate ball as Hosiery Mills posted a respectable 189 given the pitch conditions.
The early stages of Cuckney’s reply were boosted by some erratic bowling from former player, Kieron Garside. Even when the seamer put the ball in the right areas, on one occasion he was unfortunate to see the ball divert off the pad for a boundary. Openers Luke Thomas and Adam Burgess were fastidiously patient for long periods before releasing the shackles. Burgess first swatted Matt New to the rope, before Thomas went one better to punish Kyle Garside for overpitching as he registered a maximum.
Dropped catches blighted Hosiery Mills’ assault on the Cuckney batting order, and the ever busy Matt New was the first guilty party when he couldn’t cling on to an edge from Burgess. That miss didn’t prove too costly though as George Hadfield showed a safer pair of hands to remove Burgess for 23 and secure a wicket for Kyle Garside. Cuckney immediately suffered another setback when, captain for the day, Nick Langford was given out lbw without troubling the scorers. That was as good as it got for the visiting team though as Thomas was the beneficiary of another two drops. The first was an incredibly sharp chance; the fielder palmed the ball up in the air, but his despairing dive couldn’t quite propel him close enough to the ball to take the catch. With Thomas on 76, Kyle Garside will be more disappointed with his missed caught and bowled, as again the ball just wouldn’t stick in the palm.
Thomas capitalised on these spurned opportunities to earn his second ton of the season, a largely majestic 100* which consisted of 5 fours and 4 sixes. He received more than adequate support from wicket-keeper batsman Dan Wood too, who proved the pitch didn’t have too many demons in it, by scoring 57* at more than a run a ball. Wood secured the victory with a cut through point as Cuckney eased over the line with 22 balls to spare.
After the game, I caught up with the Millers’ Gareth Curtis who insisted that his team were beaten by the better side, but would rectify matters next weekend against Ordsall Bridon.