An explosive display of hitting by captain Dan Birch provided some welcome fireworks for ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE’S damp squib of a season in the Notts Premier League (NPL).
Travelling to second-placed Plumtree, Rolls looked set for their seventh defeat of the campaign when slumping to 33 for three, chasing the home side’s 248.
But Birch, going in at number five, had other ideas and proceeded to hammer no fewer than 13 sixes in a whirlwind knock of 171 not out.
He also sent 13 fours rocketing to the boundary in a 95-ball exhibition that earned Rolls a remarkable three-wicket victory with four balls to spare.
The innings was the highest individual score of the season in the NPL and shot the former Derbyshire batsman to the top of the league’s batting charts. He has now amassed 1,015 runs at an average of 67.66.
Shellshocked Plumtree didn’t know which way to turn as Birch put on 64 for the fourth wicket with Daniel Andrew (ten) and 94 for the fifth wicket with Tom Lungley (16).
One of their bowlers, Matt Milnes, leaked 103 runs in 103 overs. And although pro Graeme White (three for 66 in 14 overs) picked up three late wickets, they were too late to save the home side from a defeat that has sabotaged their chances of the title, which is now Cuckney’s to lose.
Earlier in the day, Birch won the toss and inserted Plumtree, who made a sticky start against good new-ball bowling by Lungley (three for 37 in 15 overs).
But they recovered with solid contributions by Joe Tetley (49, five fours), Dave Bedingham (48, one six and six fours), White (39, three sixes and three fours) and skipper Ben Thompson (37).
Rolls replied with a five-wicket haul from Matt Roberts, although he conceded 74 runs from 9.4 overs in achieving it, plus two for 55 in ten overs from Steve Atkinson.
However, there was again no hiding from the fact that their attack was nowhere near the one that started the campaign and included the likes of Luke Fletcher, Atif Sheikh and Adam Shepherd.
Fletcher is now firmly established at Notts CCC, Atif has been flirting with county cricket too and Shepherd has left to join Clifton Village.