Simon Bunn’s 1st XI kicked off another excellent weekend for Market Rasen Town Cricket Club, romping to a 130 run victory over Hartsholme 2nds at Rase Park to stretch their lead in the Second Division of the Lincolnshire League to 70 points.
The Sunday 1st XI also won well, downing Hykeham 1sts by 87 runs and the Sunday 2nd XI turned in another fine bowling performance at Cross-o-Cliff Court, only to fall short against Bracebridge Heath 2nds with the bat and lose by 46 runs.
Gary Bierlein was the architect of Rasen 1sts’ latest Lincs League triumph, with the gritty all-rounder’s 64 not out proving the difference against a determined Hartsholme 2nd XI.
Asked to bat first on a sporting track, Rasen found themselves in all sorts of trouble early on, with the first three men back in the pavilion and only 35 on the board.
When Ian Williams, 25, was the fourth batsman out with the score on 61 an upset looked to be on the cards. However, the middle order rallied around the defiant Bierlein, with Darren Salmon, Luke Richards and Mark Robinson all joining him in vital partnerships to allow Rasen to post a competitive 176 all out from their 45 overs.
The value of Bierlein’s innings was demonstrated by Rasen’s new ball attack as Graeme Bell, 4 for 22, and Will Bradford, 4 for 12, ripped into the visitors from the start. Bradford, in particular, was devastating, picking up four of the first five wickets to fall and it was left to Bunn, 2 for 11, to help Bell clean up the tail as Hartsholme were rolled over for 46 in the 22nd over.
Rasen Sunday 1st XI skipper, Matt Rutherford, would have been delighted that despite losing the toss his team were asked to bat first on a dry, flat pitch at Rase Park.
With the sun blazing down, Dale Christie opened up with Graeme Bell for the first time this season and he did not disappoint, with a lively 39, including six 4s, in an opening partnership of 48.
Bell, mainly a spectator in the opening exchanges, then took up the mantle. Joined by Rutherford the pair put on a delightful 86 before the skipper fell for 25.
Luke Robinson uncharacteristically threw his wicket away shortly after with the score on 142 for 3.
Flame-haired Matt Hamilton joined the accumulating Bell and the pair battered the Hykeham boys into submission with another 80 run partnership, which was only ended when Bell played round a good delivery from Kieran O’Sullivan, to be bowled for a classy 92, including four massive 6s and six 4s.
Hamilton continued Bell’s good work, amassing 50 not out and hitting the boundary seven times.
Rasen closed their innings on 232 for 4 from 40 overs.
The visitors started brightly, with County seamer Jon Darke and Will Bradford finding the early batsmen from Hykeham playing positively.
O’Sullivan proved the main threat with a gutsy 53 before falling to Rutherford.
Wickets were at a premium, but the run chase slowed with Gary Bierlein, Simon Bunn, Rutherford, Scott and Robinson all bowling tightly and sharing around the 8 wickets to fall before Hykeham’s innings ended with them 87 runs short.
The Sunday 2nd XI continued their rapid progress at Bracebridge Heath 2nds, bowling the home side out for 161.
Bracebridge’s total was built around A Sreedharan’s 62 as a fine all-round performance with the ball from Rasen’s attack limiting the Cross-o-Cliff Court outfit’s batsmen.
Paul Bett again led from the front with 2 for 21 and he was ably supported by Jim Dodds, 2 for 30, Luke Richards, 2 for 25 from 9 overs, Matt Hawke, 2 for 9 and James Keast, 1 for 27. Rasen’s reply saw all of the senior batsmen, except Bett, fail to trouble the scorers and it was left to the youngsters to put up a fight, which they did with aplomb.
Led by U13 County star James Keast’s 30, the middle order battled hard to keep Rasen in the game, with Joe Stephenson, 22, and Liam Entwistle, 21, demonstrating their ability with the willow.
Unfortunately Rasen were dismissed for 114, 47 runs short of their elusive first win.
Today, Wednesday, sees the club’s U13s playing in the Regional Semi-Final, and hopefully Final, of the ECB National Cup competition for their age-group at Uppingham School.
The lads face Radcliffe-on-Trent U13s, with the game starting at 11am.
The winner will then face either Horton House or Peterborough Town in the Regional Final this afternoon, before heading to Oakham for the National Final in August.
The club wish all of the players luck for today.
This weekend sees a full fixture list for the club’s seniors sides.
On Saturday, the 1st XI host Haxey 2nds and the 2nd XI head to top of the table Broughton 2nds, both matches start at 1.30pm.
On Sunday, the 1st XI head to local rivals Cherry Willingham for a vital encounter in the Lincoln Sunday League Premier Division and the 2nds host Revesby, both matches start at 2pm.
l More cricket news on page 94