Only the stubbornness of tailender Tim Buckthorpe prevented defeat as title fancies HUCKNALL were quickly brought back down to earth in Division A of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League.
After their commanding performance on the opening day of the season the previous week, Hucknall were expected to sweep aside newly-promoted Newark outfit Collingham, who were runners-up in Division B last term.
But without four key players, they sank to 54 for eight in reply to Collingham’s total of 198. And that meant Buckthorpe and fellow ‘rabbits’ Anthony Freeman and Harry Finch needed to bat fully 29 overs to salvage a losing draw.
That they managed it, with Hucknall finishing on 132-9, heaps huge credit on the trio because they faced 60% of the innings’ deliveries and scored 56% of its runs.
Buckthorpe, who is well used to batting higher up the order, stayed for exactly 100 balls to make an unbeaten 33 (three fours), while both Freeman and Finch chipped in with ten apiece from vigils lasting 37 balls and 48 balls respectively.
Home side Collingham were left wondering how on earth they had failed to secure an outright win after inspirational bowling by David Pipes (3-22 in 16 overs), Alistair Haynes (3-25 in 12) and Chad Batty (3-45 in 12), who wrecked Hucknall’s top order, Robin Maxwell, Dale Campbell et al. In fact, skipper Maxwell, with ten before an unlucky inside edge, was the only player in the first eight to hit double figures.
Earlier Maxwell had asked Collingham to bat first and was soon rewarded by early wickets for new signings Freeman (1-8 in six overs) and Suhail Ahmed (3-55 in 16). Indeed, at 60-4, the hosts looked in trouble, with Buckthorpe (1-33 in ten overs) proving that he’s a valuable bowler to have around too.
However, they were held together by a splendid knock from opener and man-of-the-match Haynes, who struck 81, including 13 boundaries, and shared a crucial fifth-wicket stand of 66 with George Hogg (30).
When both fell in quick succession, the initiative returned to Hucknall. But Jonathan Todd’s gritty 28 ensured Collingham would not fold readily and it took a run out by Freeman and a couple of late wickets for Finch (3-48 in 11.3 overs) to finally polish them off.