The Rutland League promotion hopes of Burghley Park were dented when they slipped to a nail-biting defeat by one of their rivals to go up, East Carlton.
Park posted 119 and very nearly defended their modest total, only to be denied by the hosts’ last-wicket pair in the Division 3 clash.
The earlier than anticipated start seemed to throw the Bears as a rare error of judgement from in-form batsmen Gareth Hook meant Australian Sam Nicholls was sent back to the pavilion run-out without facing a ball.
East Carlton’s opening bowlers, Evans and Leaning, bowled with good discipline and took advantage of the friendly bowling conditions, with number three Burghley batsman Chris Beard eventually bowled by Evans.
This brought Henry Charlton to the crease. Hook and Charlton set about rebuilding the shaky start with some lovely stroke play. Hook, in particular, showed why he is in such good form lately with some aesthetically pleasing boundaries. Charlton eventually fell for an industrious 25, caught off Evans to bring Park skipper Harris to the wicket.
Hook was eventually bowled for 44 by Evans before Nick Fisher and Stuart Biggs were castled by Clarke for ducks to leave the Bears threatening to be bowled out for a sub-100 score.
Further wickets fell before Popple and Swallow, to their credit, pushed the total score to 119 before the latter was bowled with an absolute ripper from Blair.
As Burghley set about the difficult task of restricting the opposition, Nicholls bowled inspiringly to take the wickets of Innes, Tomkins and Mason, who were all caught behind by Harris.
When Henry Charlton removed the dangerous Hoffbaeur with a skewed hook shot caught by Nicholls, Burghley dared to dream. However, the dream turned to a nightmare soon after with Harris pulling up from the nasty knock on the thumb, which was subsequently revealed as broken and thus ends Harris’ season. Credit was due to Gareth Hook, who did a fine job deputising with the gloves. Nicholls continued to take wickets and finished with figures of 5-35.
Biggs and Swallow took a wicket each before Charlton took Leaning’s middle stump out of the ground, leaving East Carlton to get eight runs from their last wicket partnership. Burghley struggled to keep Evans off strike and the pair just got over the line to win.
The defeat drops Burghley to fourth spot, 17 points behind second-placed East Carlton. Burghley have two matches left to play, at home to fellow promotion-challengers Werrington and Long Sutton.