The new NPL season arrived at Newdigate Street on Saturday but it did not bring the result Kimberley would have wanted as they lost at home to defending champions Cuckney by four wickets.
Cuckney asked Kimberley to bat first and it didn’t look the best of moves as new signing Shaun Levy (40) and Sam Johnson (20) advanced Kimberley to 40 without loss before Johnson fell to Tom Driver, caught at mid-on, and he wasn’t the last batsman to get out in such a tame fashion as Kimberley’s middle-order kept giving their wickets away.
Luke Thomas’s (3-29) introduction to the attack stemmed the runs, although at 65-1 in the 16th Kimberley were still well placed until Tom Rowe offered a simple chance to mid-wicket and Lewis Bramley (3-62) had his first wicket.
Several rain interruptions didn’t help Kimberley’s batsmen, but then they didn’t really help themselves with some poor shots as Bramley claimed two more and Thomas got in on the to leave the score at 90-5.
Amidst the rain two partnerships hinted at better things as Alex Aldred (25) added 22 with Jon Terry (16) and then 24 with skipper Alex King (7) to take the score to 136-6, but when Aldred became the latest batsman to offer mid-on catching practice and King fell next over lbw it was survival time with nearly 12 overs remaining.
Jack Blatherwick (11) did help to get Kimberley to a batting point, but when he fell in the final over 160 did not seem enough.
In the end it wasn’t, but as George Bacon (2-42) and Ben Savage (2-42) reduced Cuckney to 39-4 a victory chance appeared on the horizon.
All wickets were catches as Harry Ratcliffe pouched two behind the stumps, whilst Terry belied his years as he leapt salmon-like in the gully to claim two catches to much jubilation.
When Richard Bostock (53*) appeared to tickle a catch down the leg-side to Ratcliffe via Bacon it seemed Kimberley had claimed another and lower-order had been exposed, but despite a vociferous appeal the umpire was unmoved and the batsman survived.
He found a willing partner in Dan Wood (53) as they ground out a century stand to steady the nerves and leave Kimberley frustrated. Whilst both batsmen played and missed on a regular basis they still managed to keep the scoreboard ticking and Kimberley seemed to have no answer to prizing one, or both, out.
It was only the introduction of Blatherwick (2-28) whose pace had Wood jumping about and lobbing a tame catch to Savage that broke the stand, but with just 11 needed it seemed too late to make a difference.
Blatherwick struck again when Bramley edged to Bacon in the slips, but a wide in his next over put Cuckney over the winning line with Kimberley gaining just three points from the game.
Sunday found Wollaton visiting Kimberley for the first round of the National Cup and Kimberley came out on top as they won by 59 runs.
Opting to bat first they were soon in trouble as Adam Davies (3-52), former Kimberleyite Richard Adams (2-35) and James Cox (2-28) reduced them to 53-5 before Dominic Brown (41) and Alex King (57) steadied the ship with a stand of 45 only for Adams’ return to spell the end of Brown.
King was then joined by Harry Ratcliffe (9) as they added 52 to move Kimberley up to 150-6 before Ratcliffe was run-out.
Some lusty blows from King took Kimberley further on before his fall in the final over and the innings closed on 175-8 from the 45 overs.
Wollaton’s reply had the worst possible start as Ben Savage (3-35) trapped Barr lbw first ball, but they recovered somewhat to move to 52-2 mainly thanks to Ian Dodd (27), but that became 53-4 as Josh Bembridge (1-13) and Brown (3-21) got in on the act and Brown claimed two more as the visitors fell to 96-7 with Chris Glover (3-23) also claiming a wicket.
He claimed two more and Savage the other as Wollaton were bowled out for just 116 in the 37th over.
Kimberley will now host fellow NPL side Plumtree in the next round.