Darley Dale open with a win over relegated side

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Darley Dale first XI began their campaign away to Clay Cross who were relegated from Division Three last year.

Darley Dale’s new captain, Dougie Briggs, lost is first toss at the helm and Darley were asked to make use of a green tinged Clay Cross track.

Rather than being daunted by the new boys’ opening attack and the unfriendly looking April wicket, openers Andy Paullett and Jonty Shaw rose admirably to the task.

Having taken the shine off the ball and seen off the opening attack the new look opening pairing began to up the tempo and had notched up a 100-run opening stand partnership before Shaw was dismissed for 34.

Paullett was joined by Jack Stone and passed the 50 mark shortly afterwards. Stone looked to have picked up where he left off last season and notched up a quick fire 51 not out from just 39 balls, but Darley’s innings was all about Paullett who was desperately unlucky not to chalk up his maiden Darley hundred - ending the innings on an agonising 99 not out.

In reply, Clay Cross wickets initially proved hard to come by with Briggs using five bowlers before turning to Stef Jackson which proved to be a master stroke.

Jackson immediately made the breakthrough and then took the vital wicket of Harry Watson for 66, Briggs managing to cling on to a steepling catch right on the long off boundary.

From there Clay Cross disintegrated from 90-1 to 133 all out.

Jackson took four more including the final Clay Cross wicket to return match winning figures of 6-27 and to spark interesting debate over whether he or Paullett would take the man of the match plaudits.

Briggs and Nathan Fearn, who ended his eight years in the cricketing wilderness, took a wicket a piece whilst wiley old retiree Simon Cotterill took two wickets.