Darley Dale’s 2015 campaign got off to an inauspicious start with a ten-wicket defeat away at newly-promoted Eckington.
Having lost the toss and asked to bat first, Darley were in trouble early on at 15-3 with James Marsden, Craig Elliott and debutant Paul Chadbourne dismissed cheaply.
Andrew Paulett and Jamie Watts then set about the visitors’ recovery, adding 66 for the fourth wicket; the latter with some trademark lusty blows.
But when Watts departed for 43, Paulett soon started running out of partners; Darley slumping from 81-4 to 123-9.
It was Paulett who was the last to depart for a well-made 43, looking to take the initiative to the Eckington bowlers; Darley dismissed for 125 in the 39th over. For Eckington, Hardy returned figures of 6-37 from 12.2 overs.
Darley knew early wickets would be imperative in order to shift the momentum of the game but none were forthcoming despite some probing deliveries from openers Dougie Briggs and Jack Stephenson.
Leg-spinner Nathan Fearn was introduced but was unable to break the partnership or stem the flow of runs as the Eckington openers looked to chase down the target in double-quick time.
The run rate eased slightly with the introduction of the experienced Simon Cotterill, whilst Paul Carson was bowling impressively at the other end and causing problems for the opening pair.
However, it was not to be for Darley, with State (92*) and Gledall (30*) seeing the hosts home in the 24th over.