Rushton eye a potential tilt at the title

Action from Finedon Dolbens draw at reigning champions Old Northamptonians in the Premier Division last weekend. Picture by Dave Ikin
Action from Finedon Dolbens draw at reigning champions Old Northamptonians in the Premier Division last weekend. Picture by Dave Ikin

It may only be six weeks into the summer but the Hevey Building Supplies NCL Premier Division title race looks like it could be as wide open as ever this season.

Just 25 points separate the top seven teams in the early standings with no-one able to take a firm grip on proceedings just yet.

Leaders Peterborough and second-placed Oundle suffered their first defeats of the campaign last weekend and that helped make it a good day for third-placed Rushton.

They showed no mercy on 2015 champions Rushden, for whom the start of the season has been a real struggle, as they wrapped up a huge 285-run success at Station Road.

That made it two wins in a row and four victories from six matches so far and with results somewhat all over the place at the present time, captain Brad Armer could be forgiven for looking ahead.

“Obviously we have had a couple of losses and a couple of games ago we knew the next three would be important to try to win to get us back in the mix,” the Rushton skipper said.

“We have won two of them and hopefully we can carry it on at the weekend (when they travel to Stony Stratford) but we have a good balance and a good side.

“I think it’s a very open division. It was a good weekend for us with Oundle and Peterborough both losing. It looks like it could be wide open this season.

“It’s just a case of taking it a game at a time but we are confident at the moment.

“Hopefully come the end of the season we will be up there and challenging at the top.”

There were few mistakes by Armer’s side in a dominant display last Saturday.

James Kettleborough’s superb knock of 164 from 116 balls was the highlight of Rushton’s huge total of 347-6 and that was even with an early declaration after 46 overs.

He shared a stand of 147 with fellow opener Ben Mansell (63) before Ben Coddington (48) and Andrew Reynoldson (47no) also got in on the act while Mudasser Hussain Ansari (5-57) was the only bowler to enjoy success.

And Rushton finished the job off in quick time as opening bowlers Jake Higginbotham (6-23) and Ben Parker (4-39) ripped through the visiting order and dismissed them for just 62 in the 25th over.

“We have got two great opening batsmen in James and Ben Mansell but our strength is how deep our batting goes,” Armer added.

“We signed Ben Parker and him and Jake Higginbotham are really doing a great job with the new ball for us. We also have spin options in there as well so there is a good balance to our squad.

“The key will be how we cope when people have other commitments and holidays during the course of the season.”