Matt Wright ran riot with figures of 7-42 as Mansfield Hosiery Mills recorded their first victory of the season at Kimberley Institute. The right arm seamer came back to haunt his former employers by ripping through their upper order before polishing off the tail, as the Millers hoped to stay in touching distance of the sides above them.
The day threatened to be another one to forget for Hosiery Mills, who having been invited to bat first by their hosts, struggled to score freely. Gareth Curtis was dismissed for his second successive single figures score much to the delight of George Bacon who had his man played on.
The early breakthrough brought captain, Tom New, to the crease. The classy left-hander had accumulated 477 season runs prior to the game, and topped the batting averages at an impressive 79.5. He was only able to take his run tally to 499 though as an intriguing lbw decision off the bowling of Alex King left the batsman looking to the heavens. However, the gods weren’t prepared to smile on the Millers for large parts of the fifty overs. Just as Mark Smallwood was beginning to show some good touch, he was snaffled by King for 18 as Ben Savage claimed a wicket in a tight spell of bowling.
When you’re down at the bottom, your luck tends to be out. Rob Townsend would have felt hard done to when Jon Terry performed a wonderful pick up and throw, the direct hit leaving the batsman fractionally short of his ground. Toby Rodgers came and went for just 10, and with only four overs left to be bowled, the Millers hadn’t even registered a single bonus batting point.
The innings finally reached a crescendo in the closing overs. The score rocketed from 146-5 to 196-5 as Matt New and Keshara Jayasinghe teed off to the dismay of bowlers Bacon and Rowe. New had to endure plenty of criticism about his slow strike rate throughout his innings, but in the context of the game, his gritty 78* proved to be of great significance. At the other end, Jayasinghe was seeing the red Duke like a beach ball and blasted an unbeaten 40 as Hosiery Mills set the hosts a still modest 197 runs for victory.
Consequently, after the interval, the away side needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and fortunately for them Matt Wright was determined to spring a surprise. Over the winter months, the Millers had been at the centre of a disciplinary matter with the fast bowler at the heart of the dispute. With his team docked fifty points prior to a ball being bowled in anger this season, Wright was playing like a man with a point to prove.
His opening ten over spell was devastating as he scattered timber everywhere. First to depart for Kimberley was Dominic Brown for a fourth ball duck; the batsman could only look back to see his off stump uprooted. Last week’s centurion for Kimberley, Tom Rowe, didn’t fare any better than Brown. Unable to live with the ruthless Wright, he also lost his off peg without troubling the scorers. Brown and Rowe were in good company though, because Sam Johnson was soon on his way back to the pavilion for the home side’s third duck of the innings, again bowled by the man of the moment.
At 6-3, the hosts required a couple of cool heads to guide them out of hot water. Veteran Terry and Kimberley’s wilful wicket-keeper Sam Ogrizovic looked just the men for the job. They appeared to have nullified the early threat, before disaster struck again. With the score on 40, an effort ball from Wright unlocked Terry’s defences. The bowler was clearly discontented with only knocking one stump over with his previous dismissals, so decided to fire off and leg out of the ground on this occasion. The five wicket haul was complete when Dominic Wheatley was given lbw for 3, despite popular opinion being that he had inside edged the ball onto his pad.
At 5 down, the responsibility rested on the shoulders of Ogrizovic. However, when he inexplicably picked out Tom New at mid-off for 26, Kimberley’s prospects of securing a positive result were looking increasingly bleak. When James Taylor was the next casualty on the stroke of drinks, the situation became a whole lot more complicated as the home side feared a humbling at the hands of their rivals.
George Bacon and Alex King ensured that Kimberley avoided embarrassment with a cultured partnership of regular singles and clean hitting. Having safely negotiated 18 overs without further setback, captain King momentarily lost the plot to present Gareth Curtis with a catching opportunity on the boundary rope. He duly held on to give Matt New his second scalp of the innings, and meant that Millers had a further 8 overs to prise out the precious final two wickets.
The stage was set for Wright, but when he returned to the attack, Bacon initially got the better of him, as he was bludgeoned down the ground twice in one over. The seamer was unperturbed though, and a timely yorker saw the back of Bacon for a well-played 42.
The end was nigh for Kimberley and even when Wright strayed from his immaculate line and length, the visitors were now getting the rub of the green. As he fired down a leg side wide, Rodgers was sharper behind the wicket than Ben Savage was. With the batsman’s foot aloft, the keeper whipped off the bails in a flash to give Hosiery Mills a vital 63 run victory.
Wins at the bottom of the league table for Radcliffe-upon-Trent and the Notts Academy meant that Hosiery Mills failed to close the gap as they seek to avoid the drop, but these results have Kimberley looking over their shoulder in 8th spot.
Cuckney opened up some daylight between themselves and Clifton Village at the top of the Nottinghamshire Premier League table with a nervy four wicket win over the South Notts side. Having been set an under-par victory total of just 116 runs, the hosts had to dig deep and inch across the line with four wickets to spare.
Despite being forced to bat first by their opponents, Clifton began their innings with minimal fuss. Tim Le Breton made an accomplished start at the top of the batting card, flicking balls to the boundary on both sides of the wicket. His timing was better than that of partner in crime, Scott McNeill though, whose vigil at the crease was cut short by Lewis Bramley. A thick outside edge was held by Ian Parkin at slip and McNeill could only trudge back to the pavilion for 5. When 39 runs were on the board for the loss of only 1 wicket, Langwith Road was shrouded in a blanket of heavy rain, and the prospect of further play looked uncertain. However, after a delay of 75 minutes, Clifton resumed their innings with added gusto. While Richard Harris was busy thrashing Bramley through cover, Le Breton continued his early season form by sweetly striking the fast bowlers down the ground. In the 8 overs after the restart, Clifton were scoring at a run a ball and when Le Breton passed 50, the visitors were thinking that a big score was on the cards. When the mainstay of the innings departed for 56 though – unfortunately picking out Will Butler with a fine sweep – disaster was on the horizon. Incredibly slipping from 101-2 to 111-9 in the space of 20 minutes, Clifton’s chances of securing a positive result were dealt a hammer blow.
First the dangerous overseas player, Shreyas Iyer was snaffled up in the slips for 2, before the disconsolate Martin Weightman was adjudged lbw without troubling the scorers. Caleb Mierkalns fared no better, again falling victim to the old enemy, that is, the leg before wicket. Cuckney were truly roused now and had their sixth wicket when Alastair Walters was gobbled up by Parkin once more. Butler continued to test the outside edge and this reaped further dividends as Caleb’s brother Dan nicked off. The Cuckney skipper completely grabbed the headlines when he claimed his sixth scalp of the day (with remarkably only 7 runs against his name), as Dominic Harvey tamely surrendered for a duck. Having battled hard for 39, it was time for Richard Harris to be sent on his way much to the delight of the bowler, Parkin. Clifton were put out of their misery when finally dismissed for 115; Luke Gunn was the final casualty having made a comparatively high score of 5.
When Cuckney began their pursuit of 116, there was a sense of anything you can do, we can do better. This was because, the run chase got off to an unimaginable start with Adam Burgess being dismissed to the very first ball of the innings. Nick Langford wasn’t in the mood to have a look before playing his shots either, but did so to better effect than Burgess. The left hander was largely dismissive of the threat posed by Harvey, taking the aerial route to the boundary fence on a couple of occasions. Having made 30 (38), the number 3’s innings came to a close when Weightman’s short leg side delivery was flicked round the corner. The glovesman Walters, showed superb reactions to take a very low catch to his right.
At 43-2, Cuckney still remained firm favourites, but they began to give the South Notts team encouragement with some undisciplined batting. Luke Thomas called for a suicidal single that put Dan Wood in real trouble. Despite the wicket keeper’s despairing dive, the agile Caleb Mierkalns ran him out for just 1. Another wicket was to follow when gangly spinner Iyer received sufficient bounce from the pitch to have Butler caught behind, which left Cuckney on the uncomfortable scoreline of 64-4. Thomas and Bramley successfully began to rebuild; the latter stroked four boundaries to help release the tension. Bramley couldn’t see his side over the line though courtesy of a cool Caleb Mierkalns catch which gave Le Breton his only wicket of the day. Luke Thomas pushed his team up to 109 runs before his gritty defence was broken by the fiery Weightman for 34 (88), but Richard Bostock and Joe Hayes held their nerve to earn Cuckney victory.
After the game, Butler admitted that his side made a meal of scoring the 116 runs, but was pleased with his own bowling performance.
With Plumtree overcoming Rolls Royce with consummate ease, they are hot on Cuckney’s heels, 11 points behind the league leaders. Leapfrogged by the “Plumdogs”, Clifton slip to third, now 6 ahead of Rolls and 8 points in front of the West Indian Cavaliers.