Promotion hopefuls all set for potential title decider

It was a day to remember for Ben Graves last weekend. The Oundle man struck an unbeaten 149 and then returned figures of 4-18 as his team beat Geddington by 120 runs in the Premier Division. Picture by Jane Foster
It was a day to remember for Ben Graves last weekend. The Oundle man struck an unbeaten 149 and then returned figures of 4-18 as his team beat Geddington by 120 runs in the Premier Division. Picture by Jane Foster

There’s not much doubt about where the big game of the day is in the Northants Cricket League this weekend.

With the season heading for its climax, promotions, titles and relegations are set to be decided.

And the destination of the Division Two crown may well be a lot clearer after Saturday.

Leaders Kettering make the trip to take on second-placed Irthlingborough with just five points separating the two in-form teams.

Irthlingborough are 30 points clear of third-placed Earls Barton with five games to go, making the top two the favourites to hold on to the promotion places regardless of the outcome at Windmill Road this weekend.

But should there be a winner, that team will have taken a giant stride towards going up as champions.

Irthlingborough have been scrapping away in Division Two since being relegated three years ago while Kettering dropped down in the previous season.

And while he would love to see his team go on and claim the title, Irthlingborough skipper Ashley Doggett believes both clubs just want to ensure they do indeed go on to secure returns to Division One.

“It’s a big game and I am sure plenty will see it as a title decider,” Doggett, whose team beat Old by 128 runs to maintain their challenge last weekend, said.

“Going up is really the big thing for us. That’s what we targeted and hopefully we can achieve it.

“If we are able to go up as champions then that would be even better but first and foremost we want to go up.

“I am sure it is a similar situation for Kettering. They, like us, have been out of the top two divisions for a few years now and we are both pushing to get back.

“We have both kept on winning while others have slipped up and it has left both clubs in a good position.

“It’s hard to say why it has all gone so well so far but the lads all seem to be behind the club. We have got people chipping in, everyone’s doing their bit which is always helpful.

“We are just concentrating on getting up and if we can get that bit done then we will try to go on and win the league.”

The race for the one promotion spot in Division One also remains close.

Old Northamptonians 2nd are top and are five points clear of Wellingborough Town while Brigstock are a further seven adrift.

ONs 2nd head to Weekley & Warkton on Saturday, Wellingborough host Overstone Park and Brigstock travel to East Haddon.

The top four in the Premier Division will try again in the Hevey NCL T20 Finals Day on Sunday.

The previous attempt to play the semi-finals and final was washed out at the County Ground but it is now set to go ahead at the new venue of Rushton’s Station Road home this weekend.

The first semi-final between league leaders Rushton and second-placed Peterborough will start at 10.30am before Old Northamptonians and Finedon Dolben, who are third and fourth respectively in the Premier Division table, do battle in the other last-four clash at 1.20pm.

The final between the two winning semi-finalists will then start at 4.30pm.

Rushton stayed seven points clear at the summit last weekend after they beat Rushden by four wickets while Peterborough saw off Brixworth by 46 runs.

ONs are also still in the hunt as they dented Dolben’s hopes by beating them by eight wickets.