GRAEME Bell enjoyed a weekend to remember; dismantling Haxey’s top order on Saturday at Rase Park to lead the 1sts to their 13th consecutive league win this season and then cracking an unbeaten 118 at Cherry Willingham on Sunday to keep Rasen’s McKinnells Lincoln Sunday League Premier Division title hopes alive.
The club’s second elevens both battled bravely against the top teams in the respective divisions and were unfortunate to lose by five runs at Broughton 2nds on Saturday and by two wickets against Revesby on Sunday.
Having won the toss, a confident Simon Bunn elected to bat first on another decent batting track at Rase Park as Rasen hosted Haxey 2nds in Lincolnshire League Division Two.
Graeme Bell, 21, and Jason New, 27, set about the visiting side’s opening bowlers with gusto and posted a rapid 50 run partnership to make Bunn’s decision look a wise one.
Unfortunately, Haxey youngster Ethan Tonks chose this moment to make the case for bowling first, dismissing both openers and George Fussey, whilst only giving up 3 runs to reduce Rasen to 57 for 3.
Looking to handicap themselves further in a game they had been expected to breeze through, Rasen found themselves in even more trouble, as the change bowling of John Stanser and Mark Parkin reduced the home side to 57 for 5. Five wickets had now fallen for three runs and Rasen were on the ropes.
Not for the first time this season, the lower order had to stand up and be counted and, led by a composed and assured 31 from Darren Salmon, they did just that as the talented left-hander steadied the ship briefly with Luke Richards, before Richards was adjudged LBW to Parkin with the score on 73. Salmon then flourished in a partnership of 47 with Will Bradford, as the young pair took the game by the scruff of the neck with some intelligent batting.
The departure of Salmon left Rasen with plenty to do at 120 for 7, but Bradford, 26, kicked on and found lusty support from Mark Robinson and Karl Bierlein, 21 not out, to see Rasen to 184 all out from their 45 overs.
Mark Parkin was the pick of the Haxey attack with 4 for 41, with Ethan Tonks picking up 3 for 24 and Jon Stanser 2 for 42.
Having got out of jail with the bat, Rasen raced out of the stalls with the ball with Will Bradford, 2 for 7, and Graeme Bell, 4 for 42, making early inroads into Haxey’s top order. As in the game at Haxey earlier in the season, the visitors found Bell nigh on impossible to play and, unlike the previous encounter, Bell picked up his reward, fully deserving his four wickets.
Karl Bierlein replaced Will Bradford and bagged another four wickets to take his tally for the season so far to 39 as the pair wrapped up the Haxey innings for 89 all out.
Haxey had some late hitting from Lewis Mann, 19, and Mark Parkin, 27, to thank for getting their innings to that point, as Rasen romped to a 95 run victory.
The 2nd XI visited Division Four leaders, Broughton 2nds, and went down to a 5 run defeat. Rasen chose to bowl first and the home side found Dan Norburn and James Fussey in irresistible form. Norburn, in particular, bowled excellently, picking up a highly deserved 6 for 57 from a marathon 17 over spell.
Of the Broughton batsmen, only Jake Parker, 45, stood firm as they were reduced to 116 for 9. Unfortunately, Tom Brock, 20 not out, and Andrew Hillyard, 14 not out, batted out the overs to see Broughton to 160 for 9.
As well as Norburn, the rest of the Rasen attack bowled well; James Fussey picked up 2 for 29 from 12 overs and Simon Atkinson was unfortunate not to pick up a couple of wickets and found some prodigious swing.
Rasen’s reply took some time to get going, with the top three all making starts and all failing to capitalise, a familiar tale in the last couple of games. At 45 for 5, the game looked up for the visitors, but the lower order dug in to turn things around, with Tom Bradford, 21, and James Fussey, 20, igniting the comeback.
Chris Higgins then crashed a rapid 41 from 35 balls to change the momentum of the game completely, with support from Dan Norburn, 25, to get Rasen to within a sniff of victory. Unfortunately, the returning Siddall induced Higgins to nick off to the keeper with Rasen still ten runs short. The same bowler then cleaned up the tail to wrap up an incredibly tight contest.
The Sunday 1st XI visited Cherry Willingham needing a win to stay alive in the title chase and were led to a comfortable 68 run victory by Graeme Bell’s 118 not out.
Batting first, Rasen posted 214 for 5 from their 40 overs, with Bell dominating the innings. He found excellent support from Laurence Scott, as the pair put on 115 for the second wicket.
Cherry’s reply saw them all out for 146 and puts a big dent in the Crows’ own title ambitions.
The Sunday 2nd XI hosted top of the table Revesby and gave the unbeaten villagers a shock at Rase Park.
Batting first, Rasen posted 139 all out, thanks to a pugnacious 78 from Ian Williams.
Three quick wickets from Liam Entwistle saw Revesby five down early on, however the experienced villagers’ lower order dug in and guided them to a two-wicket victory.
The U13s grabbed third place at the National Championship Regional Finals last Wednesday. The side lost out to Radcliffe-on-Trent in their first game, but won the 3rd place play-off against Peterborough Town by two wickets. Congratulations to the side on their achievements this season.
Market Rasen Town Ladies played the first, hopefully of many, local derbies against rivals Caistor last Thursday, going down to a five run defeat at Brigg Road.
There were plenty of promising performances that the team will be looking to build on when they head to Northamptonshire later this month for a regional six-a-side tournament.