Deadly Dale Campbell’s second century on the spin returned relieved HUCKNALL to the kind of form they still hope will win them promotion to the Notts Premier League.
After just one victory in their opening five matches in Division A of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League, title favourites Hucknall were desperate for a positive outcome from their clash with high-flying Gedling Colliery at the New Gatehouse Ground.
And thanks to South African wicketkeeper/batsman Campbell, who fired 109, not to mention his partner-in-runs Aaron Lee, who added 81, they got it, bossing a winning draw against a Gedling side who had made an impressive, unbeaten start to the campaign.
Mind you, Hucknall were quick to also point to a pivotal piece of fielding in the contest as the visitors replied to Hucknall’s big total of 284-5 from their allotted 50 overs.
With 28 overs gone, Gedling were cruising on 146-3, thanks partly to a fine 40 (six fours) from James Barnes but chiefly to a terrific 90 by their opener Frederik Andersen, another overseas star from South Africa.
Andersen had struck 15 boundaries in his 70-ball knock and had not looked in any trouble whatsoever. He was non-striker to Duncan McKeown, who was batting with a runner after sustaining a leg injury while fielding. McKeown played the ball into the leg-side and Andersen ran. However, the runner didn’t move, forcing Andersen into an about-turn. Hucknall fielder Richard Greatorex picked the ball up and threw down his wicket with a direct hit.
As Andersen trudged off forlornly, Hucknall’s players mobbed Greatorex, fully aware of the significance of the dismissal. Indeed it turned out to be the beginning of the end of Gedling’s run chase.
Without any further addition to the total, Irfan Haider was trapped lbw by Will Spray for a golden duck. And then two more wickets fell on 159, including that of McKeown, caught off Spray (2-54 in ten overs) by home captain Robin Maxwell, who himself had bagged two key wickets earlier in the proceeedings.
The slide left Gedling with no option but to bat out for the losing draw. And despite the continued probings of Spray, Maxwell (2-57 in 15 overs), Adam Scott (1-35 in eight) and Dane Straw (1-33 in nine), they managed it quite comfortably.
Number eight bat Zaheer Rahman dug deep for an unbeaten 44 (eight fours) in 62 balls, and he shared an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 81 with number nine Liam Brown (25, five fours) that eased their side to a final total of 240-7.
As for Hucknall’s runfest before tea, observers are running out of superlatives for Campbell, whose ton spanned only 104 balls and included one six and 11 fours.
He had just lost fellow opener Tim Buckthorpe (13) and out-of-touch skipper Maxwell in quick succession when he embarked on a stand with Lee that was arguably the highlight of Hucknall’s season so far.
Playing his first game of the season of any kind after injury, Lee lashed one six and nine fours in his 95-ball assault, and the pair put on a run-a-ball 159, which was a club record for the third wicket at the New Gatehouse.
As match fitness caught up with him, the confident and authoritative Lee eventually ran out of steam, and Campbell followed soon afterwards. But more convincing batting by Lee Smith (29 not out, four fours) and Greatorex (25, four fours) eased Hucknall to a commanding total.