Captain Will Butler led by example as an exciting victory propelled Cuckney to the top of the Notts Premier League on another day tarnished by rain.
Three of the six matches were cancelled, but Cuckney took full advantage by beating Caythorpe with nine balls to spare in a thrilling run-chase. Butler spearheaded the chase with a half-century, having also taken three wickets with the ball, and he was backed by James Hawley in a matchwinning partnership of 121.
The weather reduced the game to 35 overs per side, and visitors Caythorpe posted a respectable total of 158-8, with Martyn Dobson making 34 (four fours), ex-county pro Matt Dowman 29 (one six and three fours) and Andy Staszkiewicz rounding things off with an ebullient 31no from 27 balls after Butler’s spell of 3-37 from nine overs.
Cuckney’s reply began badly when opener Luke Thomas was run out by Dowman for just four. But then Hawley (66, one six and nine fours) and Butler (57, two sixes and six fours) opened their shoulders to take the score to 138. In a sudden wobble, both fell in quick succession, and were followed back to the pavilion by Nick Langford and Luke Wood. But the winning runs soon arrived, sending the home side 11 points clear in the race for the title.
The team they depose in first spot, Plumtree, were one of the sides sabotaged by the rain as their trip to fourth-placed fellow title hopefuls, West Indian Cavaliers, was cancelled. However, defending champions Kimberley did play and suffered a two-wicket defeat in a run-starved 35-over match at home to fast-improving Notts CCC Academy.
Put in, the third-placed hosts got off to a flier as opener Tom Collishaw bashed a beligerent 45, which included four sixes and five fours, and shared 71 for the second wicket with Tom Rowe (24, four fours). But once they had gone, Kimberley struggled to cope with a vibrant Academy attack, tumbling to 123 all out, with the last seven wickets falling for just 39 runs, and only one other batsman, skipper Alex King (25), mustering double figures. Three wickets apiece were taken by left-arm spinner Anis Raza (3-16), Anuj Dal (3-17) and in-form paceman Ben Kitt (3-47), who took his seasonal tally to 30.
Academy’s reply didn’t fare much better, sliding to 42-5, 72-6 and 84-8 as Kimberley’s new signing from Caythope, veteran seamer Tim Haines, took 3-20 in ten fine overs and King 3-16 in six overs. However, they recovered in the hands of wicketkeeper Tom Keast (26, five fours), all-rounder Connor Marshall (18no) and veteran former pro Chris Tolley, the academy director at Trent Bridge, who weighed in with 24no (four fours). Marshall and Tolley shared an unbroken stand of 42 for the ninth wicket to see Academy home in the 38th over and leave them just 31 points behind the leaders in fifth spot.
With Clifton versus Welbeck also cancelled, the only other match to defy the rain saw Hucknall lift themselves off the bottom of the table with a terrific winning draw in a 38-over clash at home to Mansfield Hosiery Mills. Their total of 209-9 owed most to a second-wicket stand of 139 between Notts CCC opener Jake Libby (77, five fours) and South African Dale Campbell (60, one six and nine fours). And although Joe New (52), Kamal Manek (35) and Mark Smallwood (33) batted well in response, the Millers finished ten runs short on 199-6.
RESULTS (home teams named first) -- Cuckney 159-5 beat Caythorpe 158-8 by five wickets; Hucknall 209-9 winning draw against mansfield Hosiery Mills 199-6; Kimberley 123 lost to Notts CCC Academy 126-8 by two wickets.