AN unusually dry weekend in the ‘shire allowed Market Rasen Town Cricket Club’s Lincolnshire League teams to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
The 1st XI comfortably defeated Cleethorpes 3rds by 56 runs and the 2nd XI demolished Immingham Blossom Way, winning by 169 runs.
The only blot on an otherwise delightful couple of days was an under–strength Sunday 1st XI finding themselves out–classed at Harstholme, as they lost by 10 wickets.
Bracebridge Heath were unable to raise a side to face the Sunday 2nd XI, handing Rasen’s youngsters a walkover.
Cleethorpes 3rds visited Rase Park on Saturday looking for their first league win of the season and, thanks to some canny spin bowling from Dean Cressey (2 for 40 from 15 overs) and Andy Severn (4 for 55 from 13 overs), they gave themselves a shout.
Rasen’s formidable batting line–up stuttered and was grateful to Jason New’s restrained 58 for anchoring the first 30 overs of the innings.
Liam Scales shepherded the tail expertly with 28 not out and guided Rasen to a competitive 171 for 7 from their 45 overs.
Whilst their batsmen had underwhelmed, Rasen’s bowlers put in another impressive shift, with all five members of the attack creating chances and giving little away.
Graeme Bell and Will Bradford took the new cherry and gave the visitors a torrid time, with only Ryan Harrison looking comfortable with the pacemen.
When Harrison fell for an accomplished 22, to leave Cleethorpes on 24 for 5, it was questionable whether Rasen would be using more than two bowlers.
However, Clee’s middle order dug in, as Richard Woodward and Simon Taylor tried to repair the damage. Unfortunately their top order had simply left them too much to do, as Rasen’s spinners came into their own.
A dogged 33 from Paul Hewstone and some poor catching from Rasen allowed Cleethorpes to extend their innings until the 42nd over, but Karl Bierlein finally ended the visiting captain’s pyrrhic knock to bowl his side out for 115.
Bradford and Bell were the pick of a strong outing from the home attack, picking up three wickets apiece.
The 2nd XI headed north without three key players on Saturday, but made light of their absence, cantering to a 169 run win over Immingham Blossom Way.
Batting first, Rasen made a rapid start, with Richard Limmer crashing 58 from 38 balls in an opening stand of 90 with Ivan Nash.
Nash’s departure for 28 saw the wheels come off, albeit temporarily, as only Tom Bradford’s rugged 20 kept the visitors’ middle order afloat.
At 135 for 7 there was still plenty for Rasen to do in order to post a challenging total, but ‘skipper Mark Robinson’s tactical master-stroke to demote himself to number nine in the batting order paid dividends, as the veteran blasted a rambunctious 47 to lead his youngsters to 203 all out.
With more than enough runs to work with, James Fussey and James Keast took the Immingham top order to pieces, with Fussey grabbing 3 for 9 and Keast 2 for 16.
Their excellent work then set the scene for the looping flight of Nash, who bagged three wickets, and the pace of Jonny Purkiss to wrap things up as Blossom Way were bundled out for 34.
The Sunday 1st XI headed to Hartsholme without a number of key players, but still with enough pieces to give the home side a game – at least on paper.
Graeme Bell and Jim Morgan gave Rasen a solid platform, putting on 44 in the first nine overs.
However, both found their stumps splayed by the home attack and the tone had been set for the rest of Rasen’s innings as all of the top four batsmen were bowled.
Jon Darke’s 33 was the high-water mark of an underwhelming Rasen innings, as Henry Rush cashed in to pick up 4 for 14 and curtail the visitors’ efforts with the bat on 120.
Early wickets were the order of the day and with the second ball of Hartsholme’s innings thrashed straight to cover, Rasen looked to be at the races.
Unfortunately the chance was grassed and the home side’s openers never looked back, knocking off the runs in quick time to see Hartsholme to a ten wicket win.
Rasen stuck to their task in the field and youngsters Sam Williams and Liam Entwhistle gained invaluable experience, getting their first bowl at this level, with Williams nearly pulling off a stunning catch off his own bowling which, having flung himself to his right, he was unlucky not to hold onto.
The loss means that Rasen now have little room for error if they wish to regain their Premier Division crown.
This weekend sees the 1st XI at Horncastle and the 2nd XI at Holton le Clay in the Lincolnshire County Cricket League, both games start at 1.30pm. There are no Sunday games scheduled.