An extraordinary last-wicket partnership snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a thrilling first game of the new season for promotion-chasing HUCKNALL.
The tag of favourites to land the Division A championship in the Gunn And Moore South Notts League seemed unrealistic when Hucknall slumped to 183 for nine, chasing 221 for victory at Ellerslie.
But then Tayyab Khan, making his debut for the club, and Josh Buckley, back after a long injury lay-off, put on 38 to squeeze them home by one wicket.
Number 11 Tayyab, who has played for both Papplewick and Linby and Rolls-Royce Leisure in the past, hit 24 not out from 18 balls, including four fours, while Buckley made a patient 16 not out.
Hucknall’s run pursuit had started badly with Ellerslie paceman Dan Footitt (two for 46 in 13 overs) dismissing Jack Pates for a duck and fellow opener Aaron Lee for ten.
Captain Robin Maxwell (51, seven fours) launched a recovery with his first half-century of the campaign and put on 86 for the third wicket with Richard Greatorex (34, six fours) to ease Hucknall to 106 for two.
However, it all started to go wrong again as four wickets fell for just 22 runs to change-bowlers Ollie Taylor (four for 54 in 11 overs) and Kris Barfield (two for 34 in eight).
Max Thompson decided that aggression was the best form of defence by smacking a quickfire 30 (two sixes and three fours) before he was stumped.
But despite 17 and 12 from the Wright brothers, Jake and Joel, Ellerslie still looked sure to spring an upset until those last-gasp heroics.
The outcome was harsh on the home team’s former Papplewick and Linby wicketkeeper/batsman John Wakeling.
For man-of-the-match Wakeling’s return of four catches and a stumping followed a fine knock of 80 with the bat earlier.
Opening the innings, he struck 11 fours in his 128-ball vigil that guided Ellerslie to a respectable total in their allotted 50 overs.
Wakeling shared a third-wicket stand of 142 with Peter Vladev (70, eight fours) -- after Joel Wright (two for 29 in 12 overs) had struck a couple of early blows with the new ball for Hucknall.
The partnership was eventually broken when Maxwell (three for 49 in ten overs) bowled Wakeling and caught Vladev off the bowling of Buckley (two for 29 in nine).
Maxwell and Buckley then made sure Ellerslie did not finish with a flourish, bagging three more wickets in the closing stages.
EXCITEMENT turned to disappointment two days later for Hucknall because their hold on the league’s Chris Trafford Twenty20 Cup was relinquished.
Hoping to repeat their success in the competition last season, Hucknall fell to Notts Unity Casuals in the First Round on Bank Holiday Monday.
A total of 127 wasn’t quite enough as Casuals passed it with four wickets and one over to spare -- thanks largely to knocks of 40 (two sixes and four fours) and 31 (four fours) from two former Rolls-Royce Leisure men, Husnain Riaz and Raheem Karim.
Both were eventually dismissed by Tim Buckthorpe, but Hucknall paid the price for not posting enough runs earlier, despite 31 from Buckley and 24s from both Lee and Scott Harris.