Confident HUCKNALL ended a remarkable day on top of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League, Division A table -- after starting it surrounded by a sea of mud!
When the players arrived at the New Gatehouse Ground for the fixture against Balderton, the covers were on and rain was falling steadily from a leaden sky.
But after showing their willingness to make the ground playable and after the weather had relented, the game -- reduced to 38 overs per side -- got under way.
And with their new South African signing, Dale Campbell, showing his worth, Hucknall coasted to a fine six-wicket win to leap into prime position for their bid to gain promotion to the Notts Premier League.
Campbell fired an impressive 85 not out as the locals chased down a target of 153 inside 30 overs.
Balderton, who finished just below the locals last season, were expected to offer a serious test. And after being put into bat, they made a sound start, with openers Tim Clipsham (28, five fours) and Pete Lambert (16) sharing 32 for the first wicket.
But at the same time, Joel Wright (one for 16 in nine overs) was bowling a tight spell with the new ball and once he had tempted Clipsham into a leading edge, the visitors lost their way.
At the other end, spinner Adam Scott replaced an expensive Josh Buckley (one for 46 in eight overs) and soon found success, removing Dominic Wiffin for a duck and then Lambert. And when Hucknall skipper Robin Maxwell (one for 16 in five overs) bowled his counterpart, Alan Jackson, Balderton were 60 for four.
A recovery was led by Chris Dobbie, who struck three sixes and four fours in an entertaining run-a-ball 52. And a fifth-wicket partnership worth 52 with Ian Sellars (16) threatened to derail the home side.
However, Hucknall regained the initiative via an excellent end-of-innings spell by third-change bowler Max Thompson (four for 21).
Thompson took four wickets in only five overs and when Dobbie was finally stumped by Campbell, off the returning Buckley, Balderton’s resistance was over and they finished on 152 for nine.
Hucknall still needed to score at four runs per over to seal their victory. And when they lost opener Aaron Lee to Luke Endley in the opening over, at least one alarm bell rang.
But with the sun now out, the pitch flat and the outfield dry, Campbell was in his element, stroking the ball to all parts.
Cracking two sixes and 12 fours, the Springbok carried his bat, sharing stands of 60 for the second wicket with Maxwell (24, three fours) and 65 for the fourth wicket with Lee Smith (19).
Balderton’s most dangerous bowler, Endley (three for 54 in 12 overs), did return to collect two more scalps. But he never looked like dislodging Campbell.
Some of the 26-year-old’s strokeplay was a delight to watch, and he hit the winning runs in style with a six over the New Gatehouse Ground’s garage extension.
This Saturday, Hucknall are on their travels to Gedling Colliery.