With the sun beating down on Rase Park this weekend, it felt more like high summer than the first full weekend of the cricket season and Market Rasen Town Cricket Club’s Saturday and Sunday 1st XIs took full advantage.
The 1st XI entertained relegated Nettleham 2nds on Saturday, winning by eight wickets and the Sunday 1st XI hosted promoted Heckington on Sunday and won by 151 runs. The 1sts game against Nettleham saw Graeme Bell make his second Lincs League debut for Rasen and the all-rounder did not disappoint, bowling at real pace to form a potent new ball partnership with Will Bradford. The pair had reduced Nettleham to 17 for three within seven overs and the afternoon didn’t get much better for the visitors.
Joe Naughton, 27, and Chris Dobbs, 21, counter-attacked with intent, but their efforts found little support from a brittle Nettleham line-up that was bundled out for 90; Bradford delivering the coup de grace to finish with four for 29.
He was ably supported by the other three bowlers used: Karl Bierlein, three for 31, Gary Bierlein, two for 19, and Graeme Bell, one for eight, as well as some exceptional fielding from a fired up Rasen side.
After tea Nettleham found themselves unable to stem the tide as Bell, 27, and Jon Stephenson, 27 not out, set about the visiting attack with gusto.
A brief flurry of wickets; with Bell playing on to Strawson and George Fussey being unfortunately run out after a mix-up with Stephenson gave the large, home crowd a brief moment of concern. However, Ian Williams, 22 not out, calmed the home side’s nerves and took Rasen to victory in the grand manner, smiting a six over long-off to send the spectators scurrying for cover and seal Rasen’s eight wicket win.
The Sunday 1st XI would have won even more convincingly, had it not been for a determined 68 not out from Heckington’s number nine Joe Braithwaite.
Rasen posted an imposing score of 301 for five on the back of a 162 run third wicket partnership between skipper Matt Rutherford, 74, and Laurence Scott, 127.
A pugnacious 33 not out from Matt Hamilton in the final overs boosted Rasen’s score past 300 and ensured that the visitors had little chance of making a game of it.
In the field, Lincolnshire bowler Jon Darke broke the back of Heckington’s reply almost instantly, with Will Charlesworth’s 32 the only resistance offered by the top order.
Backed up by the wiles of Gary Bierlein, two for 30, and the seam of Simon Bunn, three for 24, Darke, four for 35, put on a display of high-class fast bowling that was too much for the visitors.
Heckington were dismissed in the 39th over for 150, to hand Rasen a 151 run victory.
Next weekend sees cricket at Rase Park on Saturday and Monday.
On Saturday the 1sts travel to Stamford Homes in Lincs League 2 and the 2nds get their season under way, hosting Caistor 3rds. On Bank Holiday Monday, the 1sts host Cleethorpes 3rds. All games start at 1.30pm.