One former Trent Bridge star delivered a severe bodyblow to another as the Notts Premier League (NPL) title challenge of ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE went off the rails again last Saturday.
For Paul Franks, who now runs the young Notts CCC Academy side, put one over John Birch, chairman and guru of Rolls.
Birch’s boys, captained by his son Dan, had revitalised their championship chances with a stirring win the previous week to leap into third in the NPL table. But they’re back down to fifth now, fully 62 points behind leaders Cuckney, after an unexpected six-wicket defeat at the hands of Franks’s Notts.
The home side had limped through the first half of the campaign, collecting only two victories in 11 matches.
But after winning the toss and inserting The Rollers, they struck two killer blows with the new ball, courtesy of 18-year-old left-armer Luke Wood, a member of the England Under-19s squad.
Wood (three for 39 in 11 overs) had both opener Gurpej Landa and skipper Dan Birch, who had cracked a century the previous week, caught for ducks. And when he also removed Matt Roberts for 14, nervous Rolls were struggling on 32 for three.
To be fair, the Hucknall side did well to rebuild their innings, in the hands of Shaun Levy and Tom Lungley.
But run-scoring was never easy on the Lady Bay Road track and even though the pair shared a stand worth 129 for the fourth wicket, it wasn’t enough to take their side past the 200-mark by the end of their allotted 50 overs.
Opener Levy carried his bat for an undefeated 87, which spanned 140 balls and contained just four boundaries.
All-rounder Lungley’s knock was in similar vein as he made 54 (three fours) from 97 balls.
Levy also received late support from Steve Atkinson (16), while Notts’s attack leaked 21 extras.
When the home team replied, early wickets were key to Rolls’s chances. But in the absence of Adam Shepherd, they struggled.
The decision to open with spinner Roberts backfired as Notts openers Hassan Azad and Jake Libby constructed a partnership of 75.
Lungley (two for 36 in ten overs) finally split them when dismissing Libby. But Azad could not be moved, guiding his side to their victory target with six wickets and more than three overs in hand.
He finished on 79 not out (six fours) and received further help from Adam Tilcock (21) in a third-wicket stand of 53.
Atif Sheikh (two for 61 in 13.3 overs) , fresh from his trial with Leicestershire against India, struck a couple of blows in his second spell.
But Notts finished the job off in the hands of that man Franks, who fired a breezy 26 not out (four fours) from 21 balls,