The 2014 NCB Premier League season got underway beneath a cloud of doomsayers expecting the deployment of mass rain cards, but in the end the weather played little part in the day’s proceedings.
Welbeck Colliery travelled to the PCG, where they won the toss and invited their hosts to bat. Plumtree’s innings did not start well, as tight bowling from the Collierymen reduced them to 69-6.
The only batsman to make a real fight of it was opener Sam Storey, and he paired with Saad Ashraf to add 52 to the total before falling himself for a battling 52.
From there it became about using up the overs, a feat achieved as the Plums closed on 156-9.
In reply the away side lost Matt Cross early, but a solid partnership of 77 between former Academy skipper Andrew Parkin-Coates (42) and Matthew Higgins (46) effectively sealed the deal, and despite a late fightback, led by Matt Milnes (3-51), Welbeck cruised to a six-wicket win with almost nine overs in hand, Rob French ending the day 30 not out.
Former champions, Cuckney played host to Bassetlaw champions Ordsall Bridon, the new boys winning the toss and opting to bowl.
In keeping with the theme of the day, the Bears lost early wickets, indeed lost wickets regularly, only opener Adam Burgess showing real resistance to top score with 36.
With ‘Mr Extras’ the next highest and Aqab Ahmed taking 4-33, the Cuckney innings closed after 49 overs with the home side 144 all out.
In reply, Bridon were never able to get going, four Cuckney bowlers taking a pair of wickets each as they subsided to 101 all out inside 39 overs, Tim Ward leading the way with 32 runs.
Rolls Royce Leisure were the big winners on opening day, prevailing over the Notts Academy side by 137 runs.
The visitors won the toss and elected to have a bowl, a decision that looked inspired after nine balls, Rolls having lost two wickets without scoring.
That was pretty much as good as it got. Dan Birch combined first with Gurpej Landa, then with Tom Lungley (52) in a stand of 120 for the fourth wicket and finally with Michael Millwood to add 55, before falling fifth out for 116. His 122-ball knock included 11 fours and five sixes.
The Academy bowlers regained a measure of pride, taking a further three wickets as Rolls closed their innings on 251-8, Ben Kitt by far the pick of the bowling, claiming 6-46.
In reply, the Academy batsmen never got going, wickets falling regularly, before the innings petered out after 31 overs for just 114, Tom Lungley completing a fine all round day with 3-23.
The Fieldings played host to the league’s other new boys as South Notts champion Radcliffe-on-Trent visited Mansfield Hosiery Mills.
Radcliffe won the toss and, going with the flow, chose to let the opposition bat first.
There were 151 runs on the board before RoT had their first wicket back in the Premier League, Matt New falling for 62. The second wicket stand was worth 99, when Tom New was dismissed for 39. When the innings ended the Millers had made 254-2.
Opener Gareth Curtis made an early bid for highest score of the season, his unbeaten 140, coming from 156 balls and including 14 fours and 4 sixes.
In reply the Trentsiders made a slow start and were two down with just 16 on the board.
There followed an 84-run stand, ending when Robert Sutton was lbw to Matt New for 36.
Eddie Torr (30) and Josh Mierkalns did their best to keep Radcliffe in the hunt, but when Mierkalns fell for 88, the task become one of achieving the draw, a task successfully negotiated with the innings closing at 202-8.
The days’ other winners were Kimberley Institute. On what appears to have been a bowler’s paradise at Birchover Park, Institute skipper Sam Ogrizovic called correctly and asked the defending champion WI Cavaliers to have first use of the track.
But 43 overs and five balls later, the home team were all out for just 90, no batsman scoring more than 19.
James Mann led the bowlers with 4-14 from 12 overs and he was ably backed up by the returning George Baco,n who took 3-28.
Cavaliers are champions for a reason, and looked likely to pull off an unlikely victory as, led by debutant Kafeel Shafique (5-32), their bowlers reduced Kimberley to 69-9.
It wasn’t to be though, as the last pair, Alex King, with 21 not out and Chris Glover (3 not out), were able to add the final 22 runs required for a one wicket win.
Clifton Village were the other side to get the better of a drawn match, as they played host to Caythorpe.
Bucking the trend of the day, Clifton won the toss and batted - a choice that didn’t look too great as both openers struggled and fell early.
Richard Harris (45) and Martin Weightman (38) were able to rebuild the innings, adding 73 before the drinks break struck and both fell in quick succession.
This brought young Indian debutant Shreyas Iyer and Caleb Mierkalns together, and they set about the Caythorpe attack, adding 103. Mierkalns was run out for 53, Iyer leaving soon after for 55.
A flurry of late wickets ended the innings on 223-8, James Hindson’s 3-63 being the best of the bowling.
The Caythorpe reply followed a similar pattern, three early wickets falling, before a 50 stand between Mat Dowman (39) and James Oldham (38) threatened to change the game.
With both out, however, it became a game of survival.
A 10 minute rain break with seven overs remaining threatened briefly to end the game prematurely, but former captain Andy Hunt was able to marshal the tail, Caythorpe closing on 160-8.