A SCRATCH Lullington Park side played magnificently to earn a creditable draw against Premier League champions Swarkestone to dent the title ambitions of their opponents.
With 30 registered players declared unavailable through weddings, holidays, injuries, music festivals and football commitments, Park fielded a side with only three automatic 1st XI players and three debutants.
By contrast, Swarkestone had seven players who have played first class or list A County cricket – three of them this season.
Jamie Guthrie won the toss and elected to bat and after 25 overs Swarkestone were 141 for no wicket and on target for a huge score and an early declaration.
They lost Chris Durham (72) to the first ball after the interval, lbw to Matt Sanderson, missing a short one which he tried to hit out of the ground.
His opening partner Jake Needham (73) soon followed, caught on the boundary by Nick Richards to give Sanderson his second scalp.
Garry Park and Tom Hamilton added 55 until Hamilton holed out to Richards to give 17-year-old Will Roobottom a Premier League wicket in his first over.
The fourth and fifth wickets both fell at 227. Park reached 50 and was out next ball, caught by Adrian Shales off Sanderson, who then had Derbyshire's Alex Hughes stumped by stand-in keeper Tom Caron for five.
Lancashire's Wayne White hit a rapid 50 off 30 balls with five sixes but he gave Richards a first wicket, caught on the boundary by James Doherty. He got his second when Tom Knight was stumped for 23.
The mystery is why Guthrie chose to bat the full 50 overs, given Park's inexperienced team and fragile batting record, when a declaration would have given him extra overs to dismiss Lullington and get win points.
Park were never going to score 312 but they made a good fist of it.
Jamie Goodwin and Doherty added 55 for the first wicket and saw off Bruce Dilks and Harry White.
Goodwin top edged Park to Wayne White on the boundary for an impressive 26 and Doherty was bowled by the erratic Ben Winfield for 21.
Caron and Martin Walters then added 42. Caron got a leading edge to the spin of Knight and Needham took a fine diving catch, running from slip.
Steady partnerships were frustrating Swarkestone and Sanderson and Walters added another 48.
Wayne White was introduced into the attack as the seventh bowler.
He bowled Walters for 33 and Jonny Shales without scoring to give Swarkestone hope.
Useful cameos from Bill Arnold (11) and Wayne Harris (15*) supported Sanderson, who reached a well-deserved half century before being bowled by Park from the last ball of the match for 56.
This, together with his 4-63, rightly earned Sanderson the man-of-the-match award.
Park were satisfied with eight points given their problems and the draw was a brilliant achievement in the circumstances.
In three matches against the champions this season, Park remain unbeaten with a win and two draws.