Hucknall walk the line before Libby’s century

Hucknall v Welbeck.'Jake Libby on his way to a hundred for Hucknall on Saturday.
Hucknall v Welbeck.'Jake Libby on his way to a hundred for Hucknall on Saturday.

The dividing line between cricketing triumph and disaster can be very fine as Hucknall tip toed their way along it in a compelling first home game of the season against Caythorpe.

Chasing the visitors 227-8 Hucknall were 96-7 with the batting post mortem already being written but an extraordinary record-breaking eighth-wicket partnership of 133 between Jake Libby and Josh Buckley led them to victory, with eight balls to spare.

The eighth-wicket stand was a ground record, surpassing the oldest surviving record from the Notts Amateur League days, and was only 18 short of the Premier League all time record. Libby’s 100* was his second in a row at the ground were he now averages 196 for the club.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first at the New Gatehouse Ground, Caythorpe were helped along by James Oldham’s 74, Miles Clark’s 34 and late contributions from Andrew Staszkiewicz (24) and Oliver Clarke (29*) to see them to a competitive total.

Suhail Ahmed took 3-49 from 11 overs, Geoff Dods 2-44 from 12, Josh Buckley 2-53 from nine and Jake Libby’s 1-29 from 12 in an innings which saw wicketkeeper Scott Harris take five catches behind the stumps - the first one to do so at the Hucknall ground. The chase began with Aaron Simpson taking eight runs off Peter Vladev’s first over but then played at a wide delivery best left alone to give Miles Clark the first of four catches behind the stumps. Geoff Dods soon went LBW to Hishaam Khan and Hucknall were 16-2.

Scott Harris found his touch and the boundary, several times, as he and Libby recovered the situation to take the team to 77-2 in the 14th over. All was looking good as the opening bowlers were seen off but then the wheels came off as five wickets fell for 19 runs.

Harris was adjudged caught behind off Max Shenton for 35 off 32 balls, Vinay Landa edged young Notts professional Anuj Dal behind where Clark took an excellent diving catch to his right, Robin Maxwell danced down the pitch and drove Jim Hindson to mid-on, Richard Greatorex was bowled by Dal and next ball Suhail Ahmed was caught behind.

Dal was bowling a superb spell which looked to be leading Caythorpe to a comfortable win. But Libby, who had seen little of the strike during the spell, was still there and he and Buckley slowly shifted momentum back to Hucknall.

Targets were gradually knocked off and yet still prospects of victory were remote but, crucially, the run rate was always within reach. Libby remained calm to reach a century off 119 balls, Buckley finishing the job with his first half century for the club’s first team before he hit the winning runs to spark celebration and a most improbable victory.