With only the contrails from the Red Arrows marring an another-wise blue sky at Rase Park on Saturday, the scene was set for Market Rasen Town Cricket Club’s return to the Premier Division of the Lincolnshire League.
Unfortunately, Cherry Willingham had other ideas and the experienced outfit from the Recreation Ground man-handled Rasen’s 1st XI from start to finish.
Invited to bat first on a track that was surprisingly hard and dry for April, Rasen found themselves tied down from the off and, with the exception of Rutherford (20), none of the home side’s batsmen were able to assert themselves.
Tight and clinical bowling from the visitors and a horror display with the willow from Rasen saw the home side bowled out for 66 within 40 overs.
Cherry Willingham made short work of Rasen’s total in reply, knocking the runs off within 16 overs, thanks to an aggressive 44 not out from Tim Shooter. Gary Bierlein took the only Cherry wicket to fall.
The 1st XI now have a week off to heed the lesson they were handed on Saturday and come back for their double-header on the Bank Holiday weekend, firing on all cylinders.
The 2nd XI headed up the A46 to Caistor Town 3rds to begin their Division 3 campaign and Jon Stephenson’s side got off to the best possible start.
Stephenson won his first toss as captain and elected to bowl first, a decision which James Fussey and Simon Bunn backed up in spades.
The two seamers reduced the home side to 0 for 2 after 5 overs and were never really allowed to recover, in spite of an excellent read-guard action from Ryan McKitton, who smashed a run- a-ball 72 that allowed Caistor to at least post some sort of total.
The only batsman to provide McKitton with any kind of support was Sam Welton, who struck a stylish, if chancy, 20.
Having given Stephenson the start he desired, Fussey (2 for 20) and Bunn (1 for 24) handed the ball onto the spinners and Rasen’s experienced twirlers did not disappoint.
Karl Bierlein marked his return to the 2nd XI with 4 for 33 and Andy Richley took 1 for 27. Youngster Charlie Scales cleaned up the tail on his first outing in the League to pick up 2 for 11 and bowl Caistor out for 119.
As with the first innings, Rasen’s top order also struggled, as they found themselves reduced to 11 for 3 in the sixth over. However a stylish counter-attacking knock of 33 from Chris Higgins, 41 from Will Bradford and 30 not out from George Fussey, saw the visitors home by five wickets and with 24 overs to spare.
The 20 points Rasen bagged have given the side the best possible start to their first season in Division Three and they’ll be looking to continue their good form into next week and the rest of the season.
This Saturday sees the 2nd XI play Outcasts 2nds at Rase Park in the Lincolnshire League (1.30pm start), the Sunday 1st XI host Cherry Willingham in the Lincoln League (1.30pm start) and the Sunday 2nd XI head to Hykeham for their first Major Hoult Cup game (2pm start).