An explosive start to the new Notts Premier League (NPL) season counted for nothing when ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE faltered in their second match last Saturday.
Rolls’s demolition of Notts CCC Academy the previous weekend had most observers predicting title joy for John Birch’s Hucknall-based nomads, now playing their home games at Derby.
But they were stopped in their tracks by a losing draw at Caythorpe, who finished more than 100 points behind them last summer.
After being put in by visiting skipper Dan Birch, Caythorpe’s enterprising batsmen made light of Rolls’s bowling attack, amassing a huge total in their allotted 50 overs
The stage was set by the home team’s new captain, James Hawley, who struck a fine 66 off 86 balls, including eight boundaries.
Hawley shared a first-wicket stand of 117 with fresh signing Martin Dobson (40, four fours), who has been recruited from Welbeck Colliery. And the pair comfortably tamed Rolls’s new-ball partnership of prolific wicket-taker Adam Shepherd (nine overs for 45 runs) and new signing Atif Sheikh (two for 72 in 13 overs).
Left-armer Atif hit back to remove Hawley and Dawson before spinner Matt Roberts (one for 61 in ten overs) trapped Steve Allcoat lbw for 16 to leave Caythorpe on 150 for three.
But then Rolls were presented with a fresh headache as Matt Dowman and James Oldham embarked on another big partnership.
Ex-Papplewick and Linby skipper Dowman hit an unbeaten 79 (one six and 12 fours) off 68 balls, while Oldham made a run-a-ball 46 not out (five fours) in an unbroken assault worth 122.
In reply, Rolls were never able to find such fluency and after Caythorpe’s slow bowlers had choked the life out of their innings, they opted to bat out for a draw.
New openers Shaun Levy (27) and Ross Carnelley (20, three fours) shared 46 for the first wicket before Roberts added 24 (three fours).
But the required run-rate was lagging by the time Birch, centurion the previous week, was caught behind off Tom Hemmings (two for 39 from ten overs).
James Hindson also took two for 47 in 15, and George McCaffrey two for 35 in 11, reducing Rolls to 110 for six.
From then on, it was a case of ensuring no more alarms for Birchy’s boys -- and for the first time in the match, they assumed some sort of control as Tom Lungley and Shepherd saved the day with comfort.
Lungley (58 not out, six fours) stroked his second successive half-century, while Shepherd dug in for 22 not out (three fours) in an undefeated seventh-wicket stand of 72.