Great Melton A (7 points) lost to Hethersett & Tas Valley A (22 points) by 3 wickets at Melton Park in the Norfolk Alliance Division Four.

On a warming afternoon, it all came down to the final ball of a finely and evenly contested match that ebbed and flowed in a most enjoyable and entertaining fashion.

‘Woody’ Loines set off at a blistering pace, driving, cutting, and lofting the ball to the boundary with aplomb, as the hosts raced to 50 without loss at 5 an over. Tim Hales had scored just 4, an uncharacteristic pull through mid wicket. Young Crispin Clarke, though bowling good lines and with a bit of pace, was taking the punishment.

Visiting skipper Matty Steward spun the changes, bringing himself on after 12, but it was wily Andy Harris who struck first, trapping Hales (22) in front going for another pull. Lee Whiddett (5) was becalmed as Loines passed his 50 and looked to start again. He fell to Baker going for a lofted on drive and missing a full toss for 70.
Whiddett and Joey Greenslade (2) both struggled with the pace taken off the ball, especially when Thornhill decided to bowl off spin with very little break between deliveries, often catching out his own fielders by ambling in as soon as he was returned the ball.

Daryl Godbold (19) hung around, nervously twitching in his stance, trying to work the ball into spaces that did not appear. He was joined by Matt Henderson (30), who clipped his second ball through mid wicket and then struck over mid on. A partnership was building slowly, but one stretch too far against Thornhill and good work behind the stumps by former Melton player Dean Parfitt saw the back of Henderson. James Robb (10) struck a couple of useful boundaries before he was ‘castled’ by the returning Clarke. Steward uprooted Marcus Mawby’s (0) pegs soon after. It was left to home captain Simon Woods and Godbold to scamper a few quick singles and post a competitive target. Woods took a nasty delivery on the toe off the bottom of the bat, which hindered his movements, so just a couple of leg side swipes to finish to push the hosts to 187 was all that could be mustered. Daryl’s 21 over stay at the crease demonstrated how difficult it was to score freely.

Ryan Hayward dropped the first ball short and was duly despatched. His second, equally short, took an outside edge and landed agonisingly shy of Henderson at 3rd man. Matt Henderson joined him in sharing the new ball, and had Rob Mitchell and Tom Osbourne playing and missing. Hayward tightened things up, bowling a lovely line down Boycott’s corridor, and was unlucky not to catch an edge, despite inducing a few false cuts, before eventually trapping Mitchell (27) who tucked his bat behind his front pad to fend off a straight one.

Henderson then removed Osbourne (20), caught behind, and both Parfitt (5) and Nick Powell (15) clean bowled to further enhance his growing reputation, staking an early claim for player of the season. The need for 5 bowlers in Alliance games emphasises the role of all-rounders, and Matt fills that berth consummately.

Richard Ellis (52*) joined Tristan Hunt (26) at 67 for 4, before drinks, and very carefully and patiently set about re building the innings, waiting for anything loose. Melton looked around for bowlers to take the pace off the ball, and maintain pressure.

Rob Sims (9/21) and James Robb (7/19) were ideal stooges as pressure was applied.

Lee Whiddett started confidently resurrecting his bowling role, but with his 6th over costing 13, the tap was loosened and gaps were found.

Needing 36 off the last 5 overs, and Hunt and Steward (8) back in the stands, the latter well caught by Mawby running in from the boundary, it as down to the lower middle order to rotate the strike and pinch singles.

Thornhill (9) was superbly run out by Hayward who had just one stump to aim at. Mawby was asked to bowl the final overs from the Dovecot End, and with the in-fielders back on the discs, singles were not being saved. Ellis crept closer to his half century, nerves became frayed and Woods was offered captaincy advice form all corners, with bowlers moving fielders out of position, and the four men in the circle causing consternation.

8 were required off the last over as the scoreboard just about kept up with the run a ball efforts of the batsmen. That was whittled down in increments- 6 off 4, 4 off 3, 2 off 2, to leaves the scores tied with 1 ball to go. The field was brought in to try to save the single. Marcus ran, bowled, and the ball slid off wide of off stump. The batsmen scampered through to cheers from the assembled throng in front of the Bowling Green as the umpire stood with arms outstretched.

A disappointing end for the hosts, an excellent run chase from the visitors. A very enjoyable and entertaining fare for those watching; and most will be back to do it all again next week.

Great Melton A
T Hales lbw Harris 22; Damien Loines b Baker 70; Lee Whiddett c Hunt b Steward 5; Joey Greenslade b Thornhill 2; Daryl Godbold not out 19; Matt Henderson st Parfitt b Thornhill 30; James Robb b Clarke 10; Marcus Mawby b Steward 0; Simon Woods not out 11; Extras {b (4), lb (6), w (4), nb (4)}18 total 187 / 7 45 overs (Crispin Clark 9 – 0 – 40 – 1; Andy Harris 9 – 0 – 47 – 1; Matt Steward 9 – 0 – 38 – 2; Andy Baker 9 – 2 – 10 – 1; Tom Thornhill 8 – 0 – 39 – 2; Nick Powell 1 – 0 – 3 – 0)

Hethersett & Tas Valley A
Rob Mitchell lbw Hayward 27; Tom Osbourne ct Woods b Henderson 20: Dean Parfitt b Henderon 5; Nick Powell b Henderson 15; Tristan Hunt st Woods b Hayward 26; Richard Ellis not out 52; Matt Steward ct Mawby b Whiddett 8; Tom Thornhill run out Hayward 9; Andy Baker not out 7; Extras {b (5), lb (3), w (10), nb (2)} 20; total 189 / 7 44.5 overs (Ryan Hayward 9 – 0 – 34 – 2; Matt Henderson 9 – 0 – 33 – 3; Rob Simms 9 – 3 – 21 – 0; James Robb 7 – 0 – 19 – 0; Lee Whiddett 7 – 0 – 51 – 1; Marcus Mawby 3.5 – 0 – 23 – 0)

Leo deSalis

Categories: A Team Reports