Saxon Earley’s never-say-die attitude inspired his U11 side to victory against the odds and a place in the final of the Terry Moore Competition as Melton’s semi-final against Vauxhall Mallards reached a dramatic conclusion. A strong Mallards side, containing 6 County players, bowled and fielded exceptionally well to restrict Melton to 287-8, a net score of 239 and, having taken 7 Melton wickets, the home side had a net score of just 201 when last pair Earley and Jack Gorman came to the wicket. Melton’s young wicket-keeper batsman then decided to attack the Mallards bowlers in an attempt to give his side something to bowl at. With Gorman giving his partner the strike at every opportunity, the pair added 38 valuable runs in the final 4 overs with Early scoring 29 of them.
It needed an inspired bowling and fielding performance to prevent the visitors scoring the 40 they needed for victory but that’s exactly what Melton produced. Ben Ashford (12) and Sam Utting (3) took advantage of a few stray deliveries early on to score 23 off the first 4 overs but the bowlers found their rhythm and James Bridges achieved the breakthrough bowling Jayden Borges. Earley then helped run out Maxwell-Preston before stumping Harry Nunn off Sam Johnson and Charlie Barber off Gorman. With Nunn dismissed a second time, run out, suddenly the momentum was with Melton. Last pair Jonty Black and Will Bowman arrived at the wicket, knowing that, if they avoided being out, their team would win. Vauxhall Mallards’ score was 274-5, putting them 5 runs ahead Only 2 runs came off Bridges’ over as Melton started to turn the screw. Beth Harmer bowled a maiden then Charlie Green came on to turn the match on its head. First he bowled Black with a superb inswinger then took a brilliant diving return catch to dismiss Bowman. It was a double-wicket maiden and, suddenly Mallards found themselves 8 runs behind. Lohit Kannan was entrusted with the final over and he didn’t disappoint. The first 3 balls produced 2 dots and a single but Bowman swept the 4th ball for 4 to make it nailbiting for both sets of supporters. The 5th was another dot and, when Bowman blocked the 6th and ran, Black was run out. Melton were victorious by 8 runs amidst great celebrations.
Earley whose continual cry of ‘Come on Melton, we can do this!’ could be heard even amidst the batting carnage, never lost the faith, had a hand in 5 of the 8 dismissals and his runs proved vital but Charlie Green was another star performer and the fielding, especially in the final 4 overs, was exceptional. So the U11s remain unbeaten after 15 Alliance and South Norfolk Community League matches. Let’s hope they can take that winning record into the final and bring Melton a first-ever County trophy.
The team was Saxon Earley (Captain), Charlie Green, Beth Harmer, Lohit Kannan, James Bridges, Sam Johnson, Mark Attfield and Jack Gorman. Olly Leinster, unlucky to be left out of the line-up for the semi-final put his disappointment aside to attend the match as 9th man, all changed and ready for action. Having played a full part in the group matches, Olly is a vital member of the squad and it was great to see him joining in the celebrations.
The Terry Moore Final is on Thursday 14th August (2.30 p.m.) at Garboldisham C.C. and Melton’s opponents will be the winners of the other semi-final between Swardeston and Bungay.