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Another eventful month

Posted in ECB ACO

August began with my second visit to Nassington where the home side recorded a much needed win in their fight against relegation from Division 2 of the Rutland and District Cricket League.

Their visitors, Newborough, were deep in trouble at 32 for five and then 71 for seven on a bowler-friendly track, but recovered to total 175 for nine in their allotted overs. The hosts lost two early wickets in reply but then began to bat positively and were only four down when they reached their target, thanks mainly to a 19 year old birthday boy with an unbeaten 86.

I was particularly pleased to accept my next appointment - The Market Harborough & District Evening Cricket League Cup Final. This is a competition I have played in over the years, little knowing that one day I would be one of the men in the middle. My colleague was a 22 year old who, they say, is destined for big things. He certainly oozes confidence and I'm sure has the ability to go as far as he wants to.

The game itself, I have to say, was a rather low-key and low scoring affair and it was disappointing that the uncertain weather restricted the number of spectators to what is always a well supported match.

After a rare weekend off I returned to action with a first-ever visit to Egerton Park, Melton Mowbray. The visitors, on a day when the rain thankfully stayed away, were Loughborough Under-11s in a County Cup Semi-Final in which they always appeared the likely winners.

Another first for me loomed when I visited Yaxley for a bottom-of-the-table clash with Nassington. The visitors were invited to bat, lost a wicket in the first over, slumped to 63 for six but then rallied strongly to reach 180 for eight thanks, in part, to some poor fielding. The hosts, in reply, never got going and fell well short of their target. This was another excellent win by Nassington who, however, believe it is too little too late. Time will tell.

A return visit to March, who are one of the sides in with a shout in the promotion race from the R&DCL Division 2, resulted in a comfortable, if not always straightforward, victory for the hosts which will help them in their quest.

Newborough, on the other hand, may very well be glancing anxiously over their shoulder at what is happening at the foot of the table hoping, no doubt, they can avoid being dragged into the dog fight to avoid relegation.

Yet another first involved a visit to nearby Finedon Dolben who, in some people's books, are the best equipped side in the R&DCL Division 2. They have, however, spent the whole season languishing in the bottom half of the table thanks, in no small part, to the imposition of a 25 point penalty.

They certainly looked the part as they rattled along at more than six runs per over after being inserted and losing a wicket to the very first ball of the match, thanks mainly to their Aussie import who struck a century including three massive sixes, one of which, apparently, just missed my car.

Their total of 256 proved 30-odd too many for their visitors Nassington who, nonetheless, picked up nine bonus points in their quest to avoid the big drop. Finedon have games in hand and may very well still figure in the promotion race, particularly as certain games involving the promotion candidates fell victim to the weather.

It was, in some ways, a minor miracle that the match was played, following a rain-ravaged week - what a difference from the sun-kissed days of June.

My final game of the month involved my second cup final, this time the R&DCL John Wilcox Cup, which is traditionally held on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Oundle Town, last year's beaten finalists (their only defeat of the season, incidentally) were up against this year's giant killers, Stewarts & Lloyds, who had dispatched Wisbech Town in the semi-final.

A sizeable crowd saw Oundle ease to a six-wicket victory as the difference in class and experience clearly told.

Oundle are having a tremendous season. They were recently crowned the Northamptonshire County League T20 champions and are also the National Cockspur Cup East Midlands T20 champions. They now face the South East Champions for a place at Finals Day at the Rose Bowl on 22nd September, covered live on Sky Sports.

Another eventful month has passed and by the time of my next missive the various championship, relegation and promotion issues will have been resolved. It is good that there will be so much to play for during September...