Peterborough Town know better than most the value of high-class professionals.
Top two finishes in each of the last five Northants Premier Division seasons has had plenty do with a willingness to splash the cash on players of the calibre of Paul McMahon, Joe Dawborn and Asim Butt.
But the rest of the competition is catching on. And not for the first time this season Town found a top quality pro standing between them and victory yesterday (July 1).
Ben Smith (Oundle), James Kettleborough (Rushton) and Chanak Ruwansiri (Rushden) have all made hay against a bowling attack which some say is the best balanced in the league. And now so has Geddington’s Amit Dhadwal who cracked 121 from 121 balls yesterday - he scored 121 of 193 while at the crease before Lewis Bruce snared him - which was just enough to claim a draw from a high-scoring encounter.
Only just though. As soon as Dhadwal had departed Dawborn bagged two wickets in an over and Town had two overs at the last pair without success. Scores of 263-9 against 228-9 meant Town dropped just two points and a three-point deficit to leaders Rushton - impressive 10-wicket winners over reigning champions Old Northamptonians yesterday - at the halfway stage is not a bad place to be.
Alex Mitchell (75) led the Town run spree cracking 10 fours and a six in his 85-ball knock and adding 63 for the second wicket with skipper David Clarke (45).
Joe Dawborn (28no), debutant Hewa Atapattu (27) and Paul McMahon (23) all batted breezily to push Town to a total that was never really threatened despite Dhadwal (634) establishing himself as the top run scorer in the Premier Division with his second ton of the summer.
Bruce finished with 4-70 to make it 25 wickets for the season, one fewer than team-mate Dawborn who is trying to top that particular chart for the third season in a row.
A. Butt c Dhadwal b Kay 17
D. Clarke b Cummins 45
A. Mitchell b Murdoch 75
L. Bruce c Dhadwal b Kay 0
P. McMahon b Raubenheimer 23
H. Atapattu st Dhadwal b Raubenheimer 27
C. Milner run out 2
S. Howard run out 13
J. Dawborn not out 28
D. Oldham c Cummins b Murdoch 6
J. Smith not out 5
TOTAL (9 wkts) 263
Bowling J. Kay 15-4-58-2; L. Cummins 10-1-69-1; C. Murdoch 15-2-69-2; T. Raubenheimer 10-1-52-2.
A. Dhadwal c Dawborn b Bruce 121
R. Bell c Howard b Bruce 15
J. Thurman lbw Bruce 3
T. Raubenheimer lbw Bruce 9
B. Biddie run out 2
L. Cummins st Milner b McMahon 33
N. Wilson lbw Dawborn 5
J. Kay not out 23
J. Bye b Dawborn 4
C. Murdoch b McMahon 1
H. Bolton not out 1
TOTAL (9 wkts) 277
Bowling: J. Dawborn 11-1-46-2; J. Smith 6-0-35-0; L. Bruce 15-1-70-4; P. McMahon 15-1-51-2; D. Oldham 3-0-24-0.
Those who wrote Oundle out of the title race after back-to-back defeats may have done so prematurely.
Yesterday Oundle recovered from 5-2 against Horton House to post 246-8 and set up a fine 55-run win at Milton Road.
Ben Smith (79) and Mark Hodgson (49) added 132 for the third wicket before Cameron Wake (46 from 46 balls) and Ben Groom (38 from 32 balls) blasted 74 in nine late overs.
Horton kept pushing for the win, but were always second best before succumbing to 191. Bashrat Hussain (4-42) was the pick of the bowlers.
Oundle are 11 points behind Peterborough Town in third place.
Oundle travel to Peterborough on Wednesday (July 5) for a delayed Northants Twenty/20 quarter-final.
OUNDLE beat HORTON HOUSE by 55 runs
Oundle 246-8 (B. Smith 79, M. Hodgson 49, C. Wake 46, B. Groom 38).
Horton House 191 (M. Wolstenholme 52no, B. Hussain 4-42, B. Graves 2-31, H. Craig 2-53).