GREAT MELTON (149) lost to THETFORD (161-9) by 22 runs at Mundford Road in the Mid Norfolk Sunday League Shield Premier Division.
There are enjoyable games, thrilling games, and games which hang in the balance. This was almost all three as well as one of the most extraordinary in Melton’s history.
Heavy rain over Saturday night had thrown this game into doubt, and may even have been called off if the hosts’ captain had a contact number to call. As it was, both sides turned up determined to play. Winning the toss, Melton had no qualms about bowling first.
Liam Conroy who is averaging 41 this summer set about the Melton attack, with 65 of a home total of 161. He scored 50 of the home sides’ first 62 runs.
Jamie Baulsh (36) and Daniel Greyson (23) were the only other players to reach double figures as Joe Bickel (4/34), Tom Moye (2/24) and Sam Mann (2/16) made the most of the conditions to restrict Thetford to just over 4 an over.
An outrageous tea, with a veritable smorgasbord of wonderful goodies on offer, was an early front runner for top banana.
With a seemingly strong batting line up, Melton fancied their chances of chasing down a comparatively small total on a drying pitch.
The next 10 overs had them scrambling for pads, bats and gloves, with even the number 11 kitted up and preparing himself for a match winning performance. A hasty phone call to check on the lowest senior Melton total revealed a target of 46 or 47 which still seemed a long way away.
The carnage began in the 2nd over as Connor White (1), promoted to act as a pinch hitter, snicked off to Lewis Greyson. Sam Mann (0) was the first of 4 ducks in the top 7, with only Lee Whiddett (6) seemingly looking comfortable, as Conroy (2/23) Greyson (3/16) and J Baulch (3/31) ripped out 7 wickets in just 10 overs.
Navin (0), Joey (2), Tim (0) and Nick (0) were all despatched as the visitors struggled to make double figures.
Joe Bickel (66) and James Robb (23) then saw out 4 maidens, before they started to work the ball around gently, and finally striking to the boundary. Their 70 run partnership on any other day may have been a matching winning stay. That 82 were still needed with 2 wickets left seemed more akin to test matches.
Tom Moye (15) helped put on a record 9th wicket partnership of 39, but it still meant that 43 were required off the final 12 overs.
The re-assuring calmness of Leo de Salis striding to the middle should have settled his junior partner’s nerves as he sat on 49, tantalisingly poised to register his first-ever 50. A scampered 2 brought it up, with words of encouragement. A few more lusty blows, including a 2nd 6 and two more 4’s, put Melton to within sight with 22 needed from 4 overs. Joe felt the need to go large, but his full blooded swipe was not entirely timed, and D Greyson gleefully pouched on the boundary rope above his head to hand Thetford their first Sunday victory of the season.
Joe had scored half the runs of the chase with swipes, pulls and cuts, and finally stole the champagne moment to go with his top banana reverse sweeping L Greyson for 4 uphill to the football ground end. Despite the almost catastrophic start, he had almost garnered a hugely unlikely win. It was an innings of courage, endeavour and subsistence, and a pleasure to behold. It was also his highest score by some distance!
For scoreboard click this link: http://greatmelton.play-cricket.com/website/results/2939415