Saturday’s fine, and very welcome, weather found Kimberley Institute welcoming NPL leaders Cuckney to Newdigate Street for their highly anticipated top of the table clash; the visitors came away with the spoils though as they won by the huge margin of 184 runs and any title ambitions Kimberley had are now firmly over.
Cuckney were asked to bat first and perhaps it was an ominous sign for Kimberley when an early chance went begging in the slips as openers Adam Burgess (32) and Will Butler (43) advanced with alacritous adventure to 40 in the seventh over. Kimberley reined them in though as Richard Adams (1-44) and Akhil Patel (2-76) bowled tidily and with the score on 64 in the 14th Adams rapped Burgess’ pads and the umpire duly raised his finger.
Ex-Kimberley man Nick Langford (11) joined his captain at the crease and the scoreboard ticked over steadily until Matt Wright (1-65) removed him with the score at 88-2 in the 22nd.
Patel then trapped Butler LBW and Kimberley seemed on top with the scoreboard reading 114-3 in the 29th.
If they were Will Root (81) and Tom Ullyott (68) had other ideas as they added 123 for the 4th wicket inside 17 overs as they looked to dominate the bowling and advance the scoring rate with both finding the boundary regularly, including in some unorthodox ways, and Kimberley were seemingly without an answer.
So it proved until the 46th over when Root drove Dominic Wheatley (1-59) to James Mann at mid-on and the stand was finally broken with the score on 237-4; any joy was short lived though as Richard Stroh (47*) strolled out and hit Kimberley with a blow right to the solar plexus as he plundered his runs off just 20 balls and 65 came off the final four overs with Wheatley and Patel taking a hammering. Patel did have some joy as he removed Ullyott with a brilliant one-handed catch off his own bowling, but it seemed of little consequence next to the daunting total of 304-5.
As is the difference betwixt day and night, so was Kimberley’s innings from Cuckney’s as they had the worst possible start when Dan Birch played Stroh (3-51) onto his stumps and with Jon Terry doing the very same next ball a stake had been driven straight through the batting heart; 4-2 after just one over.
Akhil Patel (60) seemed unaffected though as he timed the ball sweetly and with Sam Ogrizovic (18) added 44 runs in quick time as Kimberley kept up with the required rate.
That was until Luke Wood (3-30) bowled the captain and from 48-2 the home team slipped to 58-6 inside 5 overs as Wood picked up two more and Stroh another as the middle-order fell with Paldip Sidhu, PK Riley and Mann all dismissed lbw. Seemingly unnoticed Patel was still ticking at the other end and whilst victory seemed out of the equation respectability and bonus points were still very much a factor. It seemed like both might be coming as Patel added 32 runs with Wheatley (8) and the score moved onto 90-6, but when Wheatley fell to Richard Bostock (1-16) the tail was exposed.
Wright (12*) showed that he has more than just one string to his bow as, with plenty of pluck, he added a further 29 with Patel who brought up his half-century off his 47th delivery but when he hit Butler (1-18) to Root the death knell was sounded with Ian Parkin (2-3) doing the ringing as he removed Chris Glover and Adams in successive deliveries to seal a resounding victory for the visitors.