Chesterfield held on for a losing draw when playing second fiddle to defending champions Sandiacre Town in their opening match of the new season in the Derbyshire County League, Premier Division.
After all the rain of the last few weeks, the groundstaff at Queen’s Park worked wonders to provide a good surface for the contest, and brilliant sunshine brought a higher-than-normal crowd.
Unfortunately, the home side were not able to reward their supporters with a victory, largely because, in a low-scoring affair, their batting did not match the application of their opponents.
Chesterfield did well to bowl out Sandiacre for 184, thanks largely to fine bowling from new-ball duo Josh Savage and Kieron Garside. But then they slumped to 91-9 in reply and only avoided outright defeat thanks to a courageous last-wicket partnership between Garside and Luke Baddeley, who put on 35 as the hosts finished their allotted 50 overs on 126-9.
On winning the toss, Chesterfield skipper Alex Hibbert asked Sandiacre to bat first, and fast bowler Savage, returning from South Africa for his second season with the club, quickly got into his rhythm.
He was ably supported by new recruit Garside, and although visiting openers Scott McNeill and James Chapman reached 31, they played with caution and it wasn’t long before Savage struck his first blow. He went on to capture the first four Sandiacre wickets, and only McNeill was able to handle him, making 40 (six fours).
From 68-4, a fine stand of 37, involving Robert Cook (31, one six and three fours), steadied the Sandiacre ship, but three quick wickets for five runs had the visitors back in trouble at 110-7, and it was left to John Jordison to rescue them.
Some powerful hitting by Jordison, who made a magnificent 63, including three sixes and six fours, enabled Sandiacre to post a creditable total, despite the efforts of Savage, who took 4-28 from 15 overs and Garside, who bagged 3-52 in 12 overs on his debut. Young Luke Baddeley returned 2-55 from ten overs.
A target of 185 was always going to be a challenge and required some significant innings from the Chesterfield batsmen. Unfortunately, this was not to be, with the exception of captain Hibbert (32, one six and two fours) and player/coach Andrew Parkin–Coates (26, four fours).
Hibbert and Parkin-Coates shared a partnership of 51 for the third wicket, taking the total to a promising 79-2, which meant their side were still in the game. But this soon deteriorated to 91-9 as the Sandiacre bowlers got on top.
Both were removed by man-of-the-match Jordison (2-10 in nine overs), while Dan Wheeldon, Matthew Newbold and Matt Wright all weighed in with a couple of scalps too before Baddeley (15no) and Garside (14no) provided some dogged, yet applied, defiance at the end to dig out the draw.