STAND-IN skipper David Coates was still able to pick out “encouraging signs” in his team’s performance despite Nationwide House slipping to a five-wicket defeat at Burbage & Easton Royal.

Coates’ final game in charge before the return of club captain Russ Arkley saw his side dismissed for just 146 by Burbage, with Jon Clarke managing 62, before the hosts eased home with plenty of overs to spare.

However, the batsman was pleased with his top order getting time at the crease and a tight bowling performance which claimed the prized wicket of former New Zealand international Michael Papps.

Coates said: “It was great to wake up on a Saturday morning and not worry about whether we would get stung by the weather or not. I won the toss and didn’t have any hesitation in electing to bat. We’ve experience Burbage’s track in the second innings a few times and it’s always seemed trickier than the first innings seemed to be so we thought it could be quite a big toss.

“We posted 146 after not batting our full allocation of overs again. After the top order, including a superb counter-attacking 62 from Jon Clarke, took us to 127-5 , we lost our last five wickets for just 19 runs. We felt maybe 180 would have been the benchmark but there were encouraging signs for the coming weeks as a few of the batsmen spent a decent amount of time in the middle. Ant Pettifer reduced Burbage to 19-2 inside five overs, including the huge scalp of Papps.

“At this point we sensed a chance, especially with the spell that Mark Morris delivered at the other end with his first eight overs going for just six runs, but Mukherjee and Wootton put on 50 for the third wicket and it required a special catch to end this stand.

“Burbage got home by six wickets inside 35 overs and credit must go to Dan Wootton for a very solid 66 not out to take his side home. We host Marshfield next week and if we keep improving every week, our first win won’t be far away.”