Eaton CC 201 / 6 (25pts) beat Great Melton B 171 / 8 (8pts) by 30 runs.
Great Melton surrendered rather tamely in this sixth and final meeting of the season with their near neighbours, which left the ‘mini-series’ level at 3-3.
Winning the toss, Tony Alborough decided to bowl first on a deck which appeared hard, but its true nature would eventually be revealed. Aslam took the ball looking to make a big impression, and soon had Gary Sturgess and Mike Barker playing and missing. Kyle Mason, coming out of the trees, settled immediately into a nagging line, and was proving his status as potentially the most improved player of the season. It was not long before he made his mark, inducing Sturgess (4) into a missed drive to the big hands of debutant Dave Long at cover.
Sam Butcher (14) oft the scourge of these fixtures, was also soon back in the hutch after three boundaries, smartly stumped by Steve Clarke down the leg side. Barker was joined by wicketkeeper batsman Matt Duke, and the pair began to rebuild the innings, compiling a very useful 91run partnership, knocking Hadi Kashif and Neal Clarke into the wide open spaces on the large outfield.
Leo de Salis was thrown the ball in a hope to produce some magic, and his second ball enticed Baker (60) into a rash swish, with the ball looping gently to Neal Clarke at cover. The classy batsman became Eaton’s leading run scorer in the process. Jonathan Spinks (37) was all jitters and movement in his stance, and swung strongly across the line, as he and Dukes (38) put on a further 51 before Melton’s leading wicket taker struck again, first to remove left hander Dukes as he lofted to ‘Geordie’ Long at cover, and then to have Spinks stumped.
Aslam removed Rob Cranston with a typical Yorker with the score on 191, but the Melton bowlers could not prevent the hosts passing 200.
A solid start was required, however Melton lost their first wicket on 7 as Dave Long (1) lofted a straightforward catch to Butcher at Square leg. It was Rob Dukes’ 300th club wicket for Eaton. Steve Clarke (29) saw wickets tumble at the other end at regular intervals as Eusha (1), Jon Moxon (12), Aslam (15) and Tony Alborough (9) all succumbed, and at 75 for 6, the chase was looking difficult. Neal Clarke (9) helped Fawad push the total past 3 figues, but was adjudged to be trapped in front to leave the visitors on 102, and staring down the barrel.
‘A fifty each and we can win’. De Salis’ sardonic wit summed up the situation, but with nearly 19 overs to play out, the run rate was not too high. Calmly he and Fawad settled into their roles, and started to tick the board round. Picking off singles and the odd boundary, and keeping the rate at between 5 and 6 an over. In characteristic fashion, the Pakistani maestro found the shorter leg side boundary to his liking and deposited Spinks deep into the bleachers for some huge maximums. De Salis (24*) clipped Barker for successive boundaries, and the fifty partnership suggested the improbable could happen.
Nigel Massingham had other ideas tough as he tied the pair down with successive maidens.
Feeling the pressure, Fawad (47) went for one 6 too many, and was brilliantly caught on the long on boundary by Rob Cranston. Hadi (2*) came out and swung manfully, but was unable to make meaningful connection, leaving Melton 30 runs short.
The pitch had become slower as the afternoon progressed producing some uneven tennis ball bounce, but it was the loss of early wickets that cost the visitors.