NOTTS PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND-UP: battle of the champions is run-packed thriller

CUTTING LOOSE -- batsman Sam Johnson on his way to a magnificent innings of 118 for champions Kimberley in the big Notts Premier League clash of the weekend against Cuckney, who battled back to salvage a losing draw from a match laced with more than 550 runs.

CUTTING LOOSE -- batsman Sam Johnson on his way to a magnificent innings of 118 for champions Kimberley in the big Notts Premier League clash of the weekend against Cuckney, who battled back to salvage a losing draw from a match laced with more than 550 runs.

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The Notts Premier League’s big match of the day served up a treat as title-holders Kimberley and the 2014 champions Cuckney amassed more than 550 runs in a thrilling draw that also featured a sparkling century.

Sam Johnson was the man to fire a ton, making 118 at number four after Kimberley had been asked to bat first by the in-form visitors. He rescued an innings that was beginning to wobble at 82-3, despite 31 from Tom Rowe, and shared a terrific fourth-wicket stand of 140 with Dominic Brown, who added 51.

Johnson struck three sixes and 15 fours before he became one of four victims for Cuckney’s best bowler, Luke Thomas (4-30), and Kimberley wrapped up on an impressive 282-8 from their allotted 50 overs.

Credit to Cuckney, who responded to the challenge in style, with openers James Hawley (53) and Thomas (40) putting on 97 before both were removed in quick succession by Alex King (4-65). Skipper Will Butler (45) and Nick Langford (42) kept the momentum going, sharing 86, and the outcome remained in the balance right to the wire as Conor Smith (27no) wagged the tail.

In the end, Cuckney finished nine runs short, closing on 273-9 to salvage a losing draw. It left Kimberley just one wicket short of victory, but the 18 points they gained from a winning draw shot them to the top of the table, one point in front of Plumtree, who crashed to a spectacular defeat at home to Radcliffe-on-Trent. After bowling out the visitors for 156, Plumtree plummetted to 31 all out against superb bowling by Radcliffe skipper David Lucas, who took 8-14 from only 43 deliveries.

Former champions West Indian Cavaliers lurk in fourth spot, just 11 points behind the leaders after an impressive run-chase against Mansfield Hosiery Mills, whose total of 259-5 featured half-centuries for Tom New (73) and Irosh Samarasooriya (62). Cavs reached their target weith eight balls to spare thanks to 86 from ex-Notts CCC man Bilal Shafayat and 75 from Akhil Patel.

The runs also flowed in the drawn match between Welbeck, who hit 251-5, and Caythorpe, who replied with 244-5. David Hunt made 107 and Matthew Higgins 86 for the hosts before Matt Dowman cracked 73no and Martin Dobson 66 for the away side.

Newly-promoted Hucknall’s toils at the foot of the table continued with defeat at Clifton Village, despite three wickets for their Notts CCC professional Jake Libby. Meanwhile an unbeaten knock of 71 from Anuj Dal helped Notts CCC Academy to a winning draw at home to Ordsall Bridon.

RESULTS (home teams named first) -- Clifton 172-8 beat Hucknall 169-9 by two wickets; Kimberley 282-8 drew with Cuckney 273-9; Notts CCC Academy 233-7 (drew with Ordsall Bridon 125-8; Plumtree 31 lost to Radcliffe-on-Trent 156 by 125 runs; Welbeck 251-5 drew with Caythorpe 244-5; West Indian Cavaliers 260-6 beat Mansfield Hosiery Mills 259-5.