Captain Bruce won’t let a frustrating season fizzle out

Lewis Bruce batting against Northampton Saints.
Lewis Bruce batting against Northampton Saints.
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Lewis Bruce is determined not to let Peterborough Town’s frustrating season fizzle out.

Town have suffered back-to-back defeats in the Northants Premier Division for the first time since July 2010 to leave their chances of a fourth straight title hanging by a thread.

Town followed their low-scoring defeat at the hands of top dogs Rushden with another poor batting display last weekend when Northampton Saints left Bretton Gate with a three-wicket win in their pocket.

Rushden failed to win for just the second time last weekend, but still hold a 40-point advantage over second-placed Town with five games remaining.

Town should get back on the winning track when visiting lowly Horton House on Saturday whereas Rushden face their toughest remaining fixture when hosting third-placed Finedon.

Rushden also have to visit in-form Oundle who are closing in on the top half of the table.

“We will have to play perfect cricket from now until the end of the season to have any chance of catching Rushden,” Bruce admitted.

“But there is no way we are going to jack it in. There are 30 points available for a win, but obviously we are also going to have to rely on Rushden slipping up a couple of times.

“They came close to losing last weekend so they are far from invincible.

“If Finedon can beat them this Saturday, Rushden may well start feeling the pressure, but they would have to collapse completely for us to overtake them.

“We seem to have lost confidence with the bat in the last couple of weeks.

“We were bowled out for under 100 on a good batting track at Rushden and then found batting on our own track tough last weekend.

“We have to bat first to try and secure maximum point wins, but the wicket seamed around a bit early on and we couldn’t cope.”

Tinkering with the batting order made little difference to Town against Saints.

Star man Asim Butt made a disciplined 52 after dropping down the order to number three, but he was dismissed just as acceleration was required.

Leicestershire Academy star David Sayer, playing as a batsman until his back injury heals completely, finished 30 not out as Town posted a below par 55-over score of 153-6.

Saints enjoyed a brisk start to their innings and always looked likely to get home despite the best efforts of professional off-spinner Paul McMahon (3-43).

Bruce hopes to get some overs out of fast-bowler Sayer before the end of the season, especially as ace paceman Joe Dawborn has started to show the effects of an arduous couple of years of non-stop cricket.

“Horton is a game we should win,” Bruce added.“But only if we apply ourselves properly with bat and ball.

“It would be good to get some overs out of David if only to ease some of the pressure on Joe.

“Joe has been brilliant for us and he puts 100 per cent effort into every ball, but he’s been playing non-stop cricket for two years so he was bound to get tired at some point.

“I don’t see why Leicestershire wouldn’t let David bowl. He can rest his back through the winter.”

Town’s batsmen have at least found some form in Rutland Division One.

David Clarke smacked 88 and Marcus Howard finished unbeaten on 67 as Town piled up 227-2 in 45 overs againstBarnack last weekend.

Youngsters Danny Mohammed (4-10) and Conor Parnell (3-14) then claimed seven wickets between them as Barnack were skittled for 62.