IT PROVED to be a disappointing start for Rugby in the Warwickshire League Premier Division after a batting collapse saw them slump to a 17-run defeat at home to Bablake Old Boys.
There was great optimism heading into Saturday’s clash with four players making their debut and opening batsmen Raj Chohan returned to the club.
But the hosts were dealt a firm reminder that you have to be at the top of your game to pick up points in this division.
The day started brightly with new captain Owen Edwards winning the toss, electing to bowl first and causing Bablake immediate trouble in tandem with new-ball partner Matt Ewer.
Bablake slumped to 10/2 in just the fourth over although Matt Payne (19) and Azhar Ali (22) attempted to lay some firmer foundations.
However, the introduction of Lee Golding made an immediate impact, with the new recruit picking up a wicket in his first over and looking threatening.
He claimed three wickets in his first spell, while Ewer grabbed his second and Bablake were soon precariously placed at 64 for six.
But the heads of Jason Pyott (60) and Steve Swaffield (31) then turned things around for the Coventry outfit as they were bowled all out for 169, with Golding picking up five wickets from 36 balls.
That total looked achievable 15 over into Rugby’s replay with Charlie Robards and Chohan largely untroubled in a confident opening stand that raced past 50.
However, the introduction of spin changed the game and, when Chohan (21) was trapped lbw by Swaffield with the score on 61, the wheels came off for Rugby.
Robards soon followed for a classy 43 and a flurry of wickets left Rugby wobbling on 99/5.
This brought Edwards and Ewer to the crease and the experienced pair began to settle their side’s nerves, with Ewer looking particularly assured.
However, disaster struck when Edwards (11) hit a full toss straight to deep mid-wicket and at 126/6, an end was open and Bablake were ruthless.
Ewer (51) constructed a fine half century but lacked support and, when he was the last man out, Rugby were still 17 runs short of Bablake’s score.
The result will serve as wake-up call to a Rugby side who will need to bat with much better application if their results are to match their ambition this summer, starting with Hampton & Solihull.