Chesney Hughes puts Sandiacre Town on top

This Is Derbyshire article.

DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND - Granted a favour by the weather for once, Sandiacre Town showed all the ruthlessness that made them Beechwood MG Derbyshire Premier League Champions last season as they crushed Matlock at Causeway Lane.

You would probably have got long odds on the heart of the Peak District being the only place in the county where it did not rain hard enough for matches to be abandoned.

But while everyone else in the division went home with incomplete – mostly barely started – games, the champions went home with 27 points and took over from Swarkestone at the top.

Victory was founded on an explosive century by Chesney Hughes, then the usual relentless bowling from Sandiacre's trio of front-line seamers.

For Matlock, the game was a rude reminder, not that they really needed one, of how difficult life in the top flight is going to be after they secured their first win of the campaign against Dunstall the week before.

The day started well enough for Matlock after Matt Cluer won the toss and put Sandiacre in.

Peter Camm had James Chapman and Oliver Swann caught behind for ducks, surviving only nine balls between them, and when the sides came off for a rain break at 17-2 from four overs, Sandiacre were looking with foreboding at what looked a difficult wicket for batting on.

When the sides returned, Ed Lander snared Jack Anderson for 16 but the batting side's mentality had changed, most notably because Hughes, still fresh from his record-breaking 270 not out for Derbyshire decided to go for it in the face of what became some ragged bowling.

Matlock had their chance, a difficult one going down in the deep when Hughes was in his 20s, and it must be hard work maintaining disciplined bowling and fielding when Hughes' bat is swinging freely: Yorkshire's fielders certainly looked like they would rather be elsewhere when he was in full flow.

Oliver Uffindall made a good fist of keeping up with the big Anguillan during a partnership of 83, to which he contributed 32 before becoming Camm's third victim.

Next Hughes added 56 with Andy Rhodes, who scored 14, and had just reached his century when Rhodes was out.

Curtley Read was caught and bowled by the persevering Camm before Hughes departed for a magnificent 104 from 75 balls. He had lifted 10 sixes over the ropes and added six fours – all but 20 of his runs in boundaries.

The only hint of a problem for Sandiacre at this stage, as they continued to chase their runs quickly, was that, if they were bowled out, they would hand Matlock more overs in which to chase: a declaration with nine wickets down would not have done so.

Captain Dan Wheeldon admitted this statistical nicety had escaped his attention as his side hurried to 220 all out from 32 overs – giving Matlock a potential 68 overs to win it.

Wheeldon shrugged: it would just have to serve as a bigger incentive to bowl their rivals out and claim maximum points.

Camm, about as honest a battler as can be found in the game, had picked up six wickets, albeit at a cost of 93 from 12 overs: he has now taken almost 200 for Matlock in only his fourth season with the club.

By now, the sun was out at Causeway Lane while most others in the division were gloomily giving up and the Sandiacre seamers scented a big opportunity, not least given that Matlock were missing the reliable Kevin Leatherday and asked bowler Ed Lowe to stand in as an opener.

He lasted longer than the out-of-form Chris Fletcher but both were sent packing leg before by Wheeldon.

All was not lost at this point, with Australian James Smith having showed the previous week that he could play a match-winning knock and with big hitters Drage Thompson and Cluer the next two in.

Smith faced with an attacking field, certainly looked to keep his side up with the rate but, after a succession of sweet shots, he edged Ryan McFadyean and Chapman, who does not drop many, held a good low catch at a wide third slip.

At 42-3, Matlock were in trouble but, during a forthright partnership of 50, Thompson and Cluer temporarily raised hopes of an unlikely win.

Thompson brought up the 50 with a chipped straight six of McFadyean in the 10th over and when John Jordison replaced McFadyean, a thick edge flew high over the slips for four.

Thompson also hoiked Jordison high over fine leg for four, while Wheeldon fired five wides down the leg side.

There was a feeling that it was too good to last and so it proved.

Cluer thick-edged Jordison for another four, guaranteeing to raise the fiery bowler's temper, and he got something of a send-off when he was trapped leg before in the same over.

Josh Womble hit fours to fine leg and over square leg, inside-edging another, but the slide to defeat really started at the other end.

Thompson lifted Jordison over mid on for four but Jordison brought one back to bowl him with the next ball and Mark Burton stayed only two balls before chipping the simplest of return catches to the bowler.

That was two wickets at 111 and two more went at 113 in successive balls, Jordison trapping Steve Chapman in front before Wheeldon yorked Womble with the next ball.

It appeared all over when Camm hit Jordison uppishly into the onside in the next over and saw Jono Clare make good ground to take the ninth wicket with a tumbling catch.

Five of them had gone to Jordison at a cost of 32 in 13 aggressive, relentless overs.

From there, however, 17-year-old spinner Drew Mullaney, who had not had a bowl, batted thoroughly sensibly to at least earn his side a batting point.

He finally ended Wheeldon's marathon spell when he hit the Sandiacre captain for three fours in his 15th over, taking 14 from it in all.

When he also edged Jordison through the slips for four, there was even a second batting point in the offing but Mullaney could not quite manage that.

He finally edged Clare to slip with the score on 147, having made 31 from 33 balls with five fours to top score.

He had done enough to make Sandiacre a little anxious about the time and the gathering clouds but the damage had been done earlier and, had it rained and saved Matlock, it would have been much more than their performance warranted.

This was a third win in four matches for Sandiacre and they look in good shape.

First Published On This Is Derbyshire.

Tue, 05/14/2013 - 09:55