Darley open with a draw

Darley Dale 1st XI started their Division Four North campaign at a spectacular but damp Station Road, where they entertained Ilkeston Rutland 2nd XI.

Skippering his fourth season for Darley, Craig Elliott began by losing the toss.

Things were looking ominous when, shortly after, Elliott was walking back to the pavilion having been adjudged LBW.

Having relied so heavily on their captain last season for runs, the support could be forgiven for fearing a sudden fall of wickets, but it was quite the opposite.

Vice-captain for the day Jack Stone looked assured and patient at the crease, continuing his recent run of form. He was joined by Jonny Shaw. Together they managed to increase the run rate in difficult conditions, both batsmen not letting the conditions dampen their strokeplaying ability.

Stone looked a dead cert for his third consecutive half century in as many weeks but was caught for 24 and Shaw followed for 11, the innings was in the balance.

A flurry of wickets left Darley at 47-4, and the unenviable task of rebuilding the Darley innings was left to Rob Lightfoot and John Bittles.

Lightfoot changed the game in one over where 20 runs were scored and Darley were in the ascendancy.

Lightfoot’s array of great strokeplay and sometimes brute force saw him to 49, while Bittles’s (22) intelligent batting was worth far more in terms of the innings. Darley were able to post 148-9.

In reply, Jamie Watts was on hand to firstly effect a run out and then catch a tame effort from Ian Banks off the bowling of Lightfoot.

The introduction of Simon Cotterill saw a typical procession of dot balls and Brandrick didn’t seem to have any of the answers to Cotterill’s questions.

Darley’s number one fast bowler Paul Carson then bowled Chris Palfreyman with a gem of a ball but by this time Ilkeston, through Brandrick, had shut up shop.

When Carson bagged John Hunt, bowled artfully leg stump, and Shaw had accounted for Martin Lewis LBW, there appeared a glimmer of hope.

Robert Kelleher’s 21 not out guided Ilkeston to safety and when Cotterill finally accounted for Brandrick with the ball of the day, the draw was inevitable.

The pick of the bowlers were Carson, whose two wickets cost Darley just 18 from his 14 overs. Cotterill bowled an impressive seven maidens in his 14-over stint, and he cost Darley just eight runs, five of which were wides. Ilkeston finished on 78-6.

A solid start from Darley will please captain Elliott and Darley will be pleased to welcome back stars Dougie Briggs and Jeremy Askew for their journey to Clowne Town on Saturday.