A WELCOME break in the weather saw Market Rasen Town Cricket Club manage to start all of their scheduled matches at the weekend, resulting in wins for the 1st XI and the Sunday 2nd XI over Bracebridge Heath 2nds and Aisthorpe respectively.
The 1st XI travelled to the suburbs of Lincoln on Saturday to take on Bracebridge Heath 2nds in the knowledge that another defeat would have dealt a serious blow to their promotion hopes.
Invited to bat first at Cross-O-Cliff Court, Rasen showed a tenacity with the willow that was in stark contrast to their last outing at Horncastle, with the top order knuckling down to the task in hand to grind out a total. Graeme Bell, 31, and Ian Williams, 25, laid a solid foundation, putting on 58 for the first wicket.
After Bell’s departure, Williams and Dale Christie fell in quick succession in the ensuing overs to leave Rasen struggling on 67 for 3.
However, Liam Scales, 23, joined Matt Rutherford and the pair added 44 for the fourth wicket to steady the ship.
Whilst Scales became the third victim of Aussie Josh Lee, Rutherford continued to his 50, before also falling to Lee for 52.
Gary Bierlein, 18 not out, and Will Bradford pushed Rasen’s total up to 167 for 6 at the end of their 45 overs with some enthusiastic and judicious running which, in hindsight, sealed the home side’s fate.
On a pitch that offered little to the pacemen, Bradford and Bell pounded in willingly with the new cherry, but found little joy. However, Bell’s miserly spell saw him pick up the first wicket, as Nish Makwana smote the ball directly to Gary Bierlein at point.
With the door open Rutherford chose to barge through the home side’s middle order with his trio of spinners. Gary Bierlein, 3 for 22 from 15 overs, and Rutherford himself, 3 for 23 from 12 overs, trussed and cooked the Peacocks and left the carving to Karl Bierlein, 3 for 33, as the table-toppers were bundled out for 115.
Rasen’s win and rain elsewhere in the division sees them leap to the top of the table. However, with only six points separating the top four sides and fifth-placed Appleby Frodingham with a game in hand, the division is finely balanced with less than half the season remaining.
A weakened 2nd XI could count themselves unlucky not to win a finely balanced match against Keelby 2nds at Rase Park on Saturday. Put into bat, Rasen failed to apply themselves and could only manage a below-par 137 all out in 38 overs. Whilst batting was never easy on a worn track under slate grey skies, the majority of the batsmen had a hand in their dismissals.
Mark Robinson’s hard-hit 26 was the best Rasen contribution, as the home side were grateful to Keelby’s 32 extras for boosting their total.
Andy Smith was the pick of the visiting attack, claiming 6 for 23 as his medium pace proved too much for Rasen’s middle order to cope with.
Keelby’s reply got off to a positive start, with Andy Sharp and James Gorbutt adding 44 for the first wicket in brisk time. However, the introduction of Simon Bunn, 1 for 14, and Andy Richley, 2 for 6, brought the visitors up sharply and with extravagant movement and some variable bounce on offer to the experienced pair of bowlers, Rasen were in charge, until the heavens opened.
Persistent rain forced the players from the field and despite the best attempts of both sides and the umpires, play was unable to resume.
Results elsewhere mean that Rasen remain in second place in Division Four and, with eight games remaining, are well positioned to push for promotion.
The Sunday 2nd XI hosted Aisthorpe in Lincoln League Division Four and made the most of the opportunity to bat first against an honest Aisthorpe attack.
Gavin Korytnickyj gave the home side a rapid start with a quick-fire 32, which included some trademark cover drives and a delightful straight-six from the stylish left-hander.
Once he’d departed Liam Scales took up the mantle, as the experienced opener delighted the Rase Park crowd with shot-making of the highest order.
Together with Andy Richley, 36, Scales put on 136 for the second wicket and notched his first ton of the season to guide Rasen to 212 for 5 from their 40 overs.
The only surprise was the Scales was out before the end, caught and bowled by Jamie Nair for 104.
Aisthorpe’s reply never really got going as Sam Williams and Martin West gave little away early on and once West had dismissed both of the home side’s openers the way was clear for the home side to roll over the visitors.
West finished with 6 for 18 from 6 overs, with youngsters Williams, Matt Hawke and Charlie Scales sharing the rest of the wickets as Aisthorpe were dismissed for 45 to hand Rasen a convincing 167 run win.
Today sees the 2nd XI’s third attempt to play their Bob Welton Cup Quarter Final at Barton Town, 6.15pm start.
Should they win, the Semi Final is scheduled for Sunday at Rase Park. Saturday sees the 1st XI host Appleby Frodingham 2nds at Rase Park and the 2nd XI head to Hykeham in the Lincolnshire League, both 1.30pm starts.
On Sunday the 1st XI head to Nettleham and, dependent on the Bob Welton Cup, the 2nd XI host Sleaford 2nds in the Lincoln League, both 2pm starts.