Despite the shake up in the league structure and membership, Collegiate took the familiar trip to Cleethorpes for a bracing day at the coast.
Skipper Matt Dixon continues to lead the side, which has a very youthful look to it and having won the toss inserted the home side. After a solid opening partnership of 53, Thomas Dunn made the breakthrough, capturing Bill Kirby for 18. A second successive 50 run partnership saw the hosts up to 108-1, before Dixon took three quick wickets, for the addition of just 31 runs – who says spinners need warm dry conditions?
Opening bowler Robert Shaw returned to the fray and picked up three wickets in short time and suddenly the good start was a distant memory, as the scoreboard showed 149-7. Dixon picked up two further wickets but a quick fire 42* off just 34 balls from Paul Sunley got Cleethorpes up to 194-9, something to bowl at. Opener Rollinson top scored with 52, while Dixon finished with 5-46 off 11 overs, Shaw providing able back up with 3-40.
In reply, Dan Walton and the returning Eliot Callis started well enough, but fell in quick succession with the total in the thirties and when debutant Chris Pursehouse was also dismissed, Collegiate were 53-3 and the game was on. Billy Root found in Dan Priestley someone who could hang around while he picked up the pace. The latter fell with the score on 100 but Dunn followed Root’s lead and attacked the Cleethorpes bowling with an aggressive stand of 80. Root was dismissed for an excellent 82 off just 86 balls, with nine boundaries, and Michael Simpson finished the game with 14 off just six balls, leaving Dunn undefeated on 46. Collegiate took 12 points for a five wicket win, with seven overs to spare; an excellent start to the season.
Sheffield and Phoenix United welcomed new opposition in Wickersley to Bawtry Road, the first team headquarters of the new club. The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first in cold blustery conditions, that anyone that has watched or played cricket at Bawtry Road will recognise. Overseas signing Tom Pinson made the early breakthrough, taking Anjam’s wicket, but Daniel Rafiq joined Suleman Saleem in a solid partnership to take the score to 91. Wickersley then picked up the pace, taking three quick wickets, including new skipper Azeem Rafiq, and the innings was in trouble at 106-4. Saleem was still there however and contributions from the lower middle order of Taylor (20), Heseltine (14) and Mangrola (16) kept the scoreboard ticking over. Saleem was eighth out for a solid 78 with 11 boundaries and the final wicket fell to the returning Pinson who finished with 3-44 and also two run outs as the new look United lower order miscommunicated. Wickersley faced a target of 203.
Experienced spectators at Bawtry Road will have nodded grimly as they opposition opening batsmen made their way to the middle. Little and large they may be, but Mark Cummins and Dave Rodgers have both scored runs at the top of the order for United in recent seasons and they returned to their old club focused on a good start. Rodgers scored a quick 32 off 35 balls to set the momentum, whilst Cummins was at his obdurate best, scoring 48 off 103 balls with three fours. Shahjahan Younis moved the game on at the other end, with six boundaries and four sixes in his 97 off 100 balls. After Cummins was Yaqoob Yousuf’s second wicket, another former Unitedite appeared, in the shape of Derbyshire- contracted Tom Knight. The winning runs were scored in the 43rd over and a comfortable eight-wicket win was secured for the visitors.
An improvement in the runscoring from United, but the quality of the Wickersley batting line-up following their winter recruitment shone through.
This week sees the derby between the sides at Abbeydale with United looking to work on the positives from the defeat, but Collegiate will want to build on a maximum points win first up – the key question being, how many jumpers will the players need? Or will snow stop play?