Great Melton (21 Points) beat Old Buckenham A (4) by three wickets at Old Buckenham in Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division Two
It has been a troubling season for Great Melton’s First XI. Following relegation from Division One, it is fair to say that Melton’s attempts to bounce back have been disappointing. Going into their fixture at Old Buckenham A, the First Team sat bottom of Division Two, with no wins and just two winning draws to show for their season’s efforts.
It was a day, however, when the tide was to turn, and indeed with no small favour from heavy rain, and a favourable coin.
The match seemed in doubt following torrential rainfall that decimated in the Norfolk League programme, but the Buckenham covers afforded at least some protection to the wicket and a 1.30 start was agreed, albeit with one half of the pitch particularly damp, the toss looked crucial. Lady luck shone on skipper Olly Harris, and the First XI swiftly donned their fielding whites.
The second ball of the innings bore fruit, as promoted B team skipper, Tim Hales, took a marvellous low catch at square leg to remove Ben Askew for a duck off Nick Mackenzie. That was to set the tone, as Bucks desperately struggled to get the ball away. Ryan Hayward used the conditions superbly in an accurate spell of seam bowling, yielding just 20 runs from the first 10 overs.
Soon after, Hayward nicked off Josh Guiness (9) to Joey Greenslade, and Bucks were simply unable to generate any momentum as change bowlers Harris and Alex Rennie proved equally difficult to score from. Bucks, particularly through M Bint, dug in for a while, reaching 50-2 from 20 overs, but the sustained pressure was eventually to tell. Rennie began to weave a spell on his way to four wickets as Paul Stearman, Lee Whiddett and Tim Hales all grabbed catches, and at 77-6 from 34 overs Bucks looked in real trouble.
Bint battled on to make 52 and was finally out in the penultimate over as Bucks were bowled out for 123. They would have taken 160 at the start of play. Mackenzie (2-42), Hayward (2-27), Rennie (4-24) and Harris (2-22) were all impressive.
The total still needed chasing on a pitch that continued to look tricky, and so it was to prove as Sam Mann was bowled for 0 by the dangerous Aaron Seekings. Moments later, Matt Clarke (1) bat-padded a simple catch to short leg and Melton were in serious trouble at 6-2.
Regular A team skipper Lee Whiddett battled away for a time with Joey Greenslade as they added 18 runs, but Whiddett (6)was out in bizarre circumstances as, having just hit a two to fine leg and, watching the fielder re-take his position, he looked up to see Seekings deliver the ball. Unable to withdraw in time, he was struck on the pad and given out by the umpire, who did not appear to realise that he was not ready.
That brought Tim Hales to the crease and it was he and Greenslade who built the major stand of the innings. Hales was obdurate, whilst Greenslade opened up after a circumspect opening in making 29 as they took the score to 60 in the 29th over before Greenslade finally chipped a catch to mid-on.
Despite the slow scoring rate, Melton still only needed 64 from 17 overs at that stage, and a swift 15 from Paul Stearman, including a towering six over cow corner, helped take the Firsts to 87. Still Hales battled on and, whilst George Ducker (4) and Nick Mackenzie (3) were unable to contribute meaningfully, the score edged to 109-7. Skipper Harris decided to put bat to ball and his swift 9 not out included the winning runs as Melton finally put a win on the board, lifting them off the foot of the table. Hales was left unbowed with a vital 28 Not Out.