Town followed up a poor T20 campaign with a disappointing performance in a Northants Premier Division draw at Desborough last weekend when only the vagaries of competition rules covering weather interventions allowed a decent points return .
Unbeaten Town actually gained a few points over their likely title rivals Finedon, even though they had made the most of another rain-ruined draw at Oundle Town!
Town closed 109-4 in 27 overs chasing Desborough’s 50-over score of 252 all out. Finedon had reduced Oundle to 172-8 after posting 233 at Milton Road.
“It was a weird afternoon,” Clarke admitted. “Desborough played pretty well as we were disappointing and yet we ended up with more points than them.
“We lost 23 overs to rain early in the game, but Desborough still had the right to beat 50 overs and leave us with just 27 overs. We were never going to win in such a short time, so we had all the racing graphics and we made sure we scored enough points to get the maximum bonus points.
“We didn’t play well, but it was very difficult to play with a wet ball. The guys kept going and we also got maximum bowling points.”
City have a big Premier Division game at Bretton Gate on Saturday (11am) when third-placed Kislingbury Temperance are the visitor.
Kislingbury are the Premier Division’s surprise this season. They were promoted from Division One at the end of last season but have already won a convincing victory over Town in the Northants T20 Championship this summer.
But that success was built around an exceptional move by import Fabid Ahmed who reportedly left the club after an exceptional start to the summer. It is believed, however, that Kislingbury have already sorted out a replacement overseas.
“They will be dangerous opponents,” Clarke added. “They will have to be watched. They knew what they were doing in the T20 game and it looks like they have already replaced Fabid, so they will still be very dangerous.
“We are where we want to be in the league. We haven’t been at our best lately, but we’re still top and still unbeaten, so I’m not lacking in confidence in the team’s abilities. “
Clarke is also confident that star drummer Josh Smith will soon be back to his best form.
In a brilliant century on the opening day of the Premier Division, Smith has scored just 105 runs in six top-flight innings. He was caught in the covers for seven at Desborough last weekend.
Smith scored 688 on 53 in 16 Premier Division runs last season and Clarke is confident that kind of form will return soon.
“I have no concerns for Josh,” Clarke said. “He has such a good record at this level and a good shot will get him going again.
“He always contributes a lot with the ball and on the pitch anyway.”
Teenage leg spinner Rohan Kundaje is now available for selection, while Nick Paskins pursues a first-team recall after an unbeaten ton in Division One for City seconds last weekend and there’s a chance outside that the versatile Lewis Bruce could return after an injury against Kislingbury.