A man-of-the-match performance from James Bridges enabled Great Melton to beat Swardeston by the narrowest of margins – 1 wicket – to lift the NCA U15s Andy Seeley Trophy for the first time on Monday at Melton Park. Having retired after scoring a quick-fire 32 to get Melton’s innings off to a brisk start, Bridges returned with 13 balls remaining to join last man Ollie Leinster at the wicket with Melton still needing 8 runs to chase down Swardeston’s 114-3. Managing to keep the strike Bridges then edged Melton closer to their target and a wide off the second ball of the final over meant Melton could celebrate winning a trophy donated by their late President back in 1976.
Bridges efforts aside, the fact that victory came against local rivals Swardeston, a side containing 7 County players, was testament to a great team effort from Melton who bowled and fielded superbly to restrict Swardeston to 114. The only slight blemish was a missed chance offered by Ezra Khan who went on to score an unbeaten 31. Tom Bailey also retired with 32 and Eliot Fox scored 24 but all Melton’s bowlers performed well with Ben Johnson the pick. He conceded just 10 runs from his 3 overs and was well supported particularly by Bridges (3-0-13-0), skipper Josh Wright (3-0-17-1) and Lohit Kannan (2-0-11-1).
Bridges and Kannan then got Melton off to a brisk start before Kannan, having played two superb shots for four, was run out for 12. Bridges then retired but Saxon Earley (25) and Sam Johnson (26) batted well to put Melton well ahead of the run rate. Their dismissals saw the scoring rate slow, however, and the wickets of Ben Johnson (2) and Taha Raja (4) set up a tense finish. Wicket-keeper Ollie Leinster kept his nerve, though, his 4 runs being vital in helping Bridges see Melton over the line. Toby Duncan with 1-18 from his 3 overs was Swardeston’s best bowler but there were wickets for Harry De Coteau-Spring (1-23), Fox (1-26), Ed Taylor (1-23) and Charlie Barber (1-11).
After two postponements because of rain it was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for the final but it was a fitting finale, especially as Pam Seeley was present to present the trophy to Melton captain Josh Wright. Alliance Chairman Peter Thomas congratulated both teams and Man-of-the-Match adjudicator, Zena Wilson, presented Bridges with his medallion.