Burnham Sports were left to rue a string of dropped catches and a violent thunderstorm as they slipped to a disappointing 46-run defeat at home to Rayleigh.

A run bonanza never looked on the cards at Millfields where the pitch, having been under covers overnight, proved unpredictable.

Put into bat, Rayleigh were reduced to 71 for six and then, eventually, 143 all out. That tally would have been considerably less had the home side not spilled a number of catches of varying difficulty.

Inevitably, it was the prolific Robin Whittaker who caused most of the problems. The speedy opening bowler claimed the first five wickets to fall and finished with figures of 12-4-46-5. Joel Whittaker claimed two for 19, with Fuad Ahmed, Jamie Hamilton and Andy Stephens sharing the other three wickets.

With Rayleigh squandering almost ten of their overs, Burnham looked to have been left with the straightforward task of scoring 144 from 54 overs but there was a twist during tea when a deluge of rain left the outfield saturated and parts of the square under water.

Burnham’s wet-wicket cover could not cope with the volume of rain, either, with some parts being damp.

Sports pulled out all the stops for more than an hour to make the ground playable again but, to compound matters, another half an hour of rain once play resumed made batting conditions harder than ever.

With the ball skidding on and seaming everywhere, Sports tumbled to 97 all out.

Tom Silvester dug deep to make 20 but only three of his team-mates also got into double figures. Turbull exploited the conditions most and took six for 42.

“It wasn’t so much a game of two halves but a game of two pitches,” Stephens said.

“They had a dry one and we had a damp one that encouraged the ball to fly about everywhere.

“Also, with the outfield being wet, shots that would have earlier been worth four earned just one or two. To compound matters, it also got very dark as we didn’t finish until about 8.20pm.”