SWARDESTON (188) lost to GREAT MELTON (189-2) by 8 wickets at Hilltops in the Mid Norfolk Sunday League Shield Premier Division.
As heavy rains swept across south Norwich’s villages and hamlets around midday on Sunday, Melton’s intrepid band of Fundayers gathered in hope, rather than expectation, of some action, even if it appeared the indoor game of One Hand One Bounce seemed to potentially be the limit (more on that later).
Even once the covers were removed to reveal a straw coloured wicket, the storm clouds moved slowly and threateningly across the wide sky. Maybe they just wanted to watch some of the early action, missed by all bar the most hardy.
What they did witness bore more than a striking resemblance to a 6-a-side bash than a Sunday League match as Alex Levison (60) showed no respect and despatched Melton’s leading wicket-taker to the boundary from the very first ball, and continued in the same fashion repeatedly for the next 3 overs. Leo de Salis went for 34 as the scoreboard raced to 54 in 5 overs.
Marcus Mawby (0/36) found prodigious swing at the other end, though not always from a starting point in line with both sets off stumps, sending wicket keeper Matt Clarke sprawling in either direction to try to save a few byes, yet still caused the left handed Will Kidner a few concerns. This was perhaps to de Salis’ advantage as he was finally able to relax once Levison got off strike having seen the bowler spill a sharp return catch. Kidner tried to match his partner’s aggression, but merely lobbed a simple chance to the safe hands of Tom Moye.
Levison then followed suit, handing Tim Hales a simple catch on the boundary. Simpler certainly than the one handed full length diving effort which went through the palm and cost him 80p, for a drop and 6 miss-fields. De Salis (3/57) was now on a roll, and finding both rhythm and length he induced Elliott Fox into a classic edge to Matt Clarke behind the stumps. The bowler had recovered enough to even manage a maiden at the end of what had begun as such a torrid spell.
Nick MacKenzie (2/31) took over from the Rugby Pitch end, and removed the host’s middle order stability, with Dan Martin (24) nicking behind and rattling timber to send Ben Hogg (20) back to the changing rooms. The game had taken on a distinctly different tone and with Tom Moye (2/22) demonstrating his guile and turn, Melton’s hopes of emulating their home victory grew. Even Lee Whiddett broke into a small smirk following an athletic catch above his head as he rumbled backwards to remove Swardeston’s erstwhile Melton Ladies’ protégée Beth Harmer for a good looking 14.
Marcus then took over in the field with two more very good catches, firstly to remove a hard hitting Sam Thelwell (21) and then running from mid off to long on via long off to snatch James Thacker’s (6) best effort at pushing the score along, and hand Sam Mann (2/23) a 2nd victim. The diminutive spinner is closing in rapidly on 50 Melton Wickets.
There was still time for de Salis to spill yet another catch, though at full length and close to the ground. Still prone, he flung the ball left handed towards the bowlers end to execute an unfortunate run out.
Swardeston limped to 188 all out having looked to post a big score at the start.
A suitably tasty tea was followed by a fiery spell from Sam Thelwell (1/37). Enjoying the warm sultry conditions, he produce exaggerated movement through the air, in both directions, which often saw the ball race off to the boundary past part-time ‘keeper Levison’s despairing grasps.
Ben Mann (6) was, though, undone by a beauty, as he snicked behind. Beth Harmer then exacted sweet revenge to account for fellow opener, the umbrella wielding Lee Whiddett (7,) to a simple catch by Dan Martin. It is possible that Melton’s insurance man was still suffering from taking a ball flush on the noggin from the bowler in the pre match OHOB. Nick MacKenizie’s approach had been to allow Ryan Hayward (0/13) to bowl but not to move full in confidence that the delivery would miss both bat and stumps (flip top bin). Strapped up ready to bat, he and captain Hales would see out the rest of the match from the chairs, regaled by the Chairman’s stories of glorious past.
Matt Clarke (48) and Sam Mann (86) proceeded to swap glove touches, baguettes and clothage as they saw out the remaining 30+ overs in comparative ease, mistiming the ball to all parts of the square, and occasionally beyond. Not all was total ease though as Thelwell put Sam on his back with a good length delivery.
Cheers from the pitch rang out as the scorers managed to re-arrange the overs. More cheers and whoops of delight emanated form the scorebox as England’s women won the World Cup.
For the hosts, Harry de Coteau-Spring (0/20), Ben Blowers (0/26) and James Thacker (0/19) all bowled tidy spells without being able to find a wicket-taking delivery. For the visitors, Ryan Hayward miss-fielded beyond the boundary and snagged his shirt on the bushes trying to retrieve the ball from the corn field nettles. That the winning run was a bye was disappointing but symptomatic of the ‘keeping as Swardeston conceded 40 extras.
Once upon a time Great Melton merely dreamed of gracing the same pitch as one of Norfolk’s leading clubs. Now-a-days completing a league double barely rouses a chorus worthy of mention.
This Sunday is an away trip to bottom of the table Thetford as Melton look to finish in a comfortable mid table position.
To discover the identity of Melton’s unmentioned player, and the deliverer of that OHOB ball, refer to the match card on Play Cricket.