MELTON PHOENIX beat BROADLAND BRONCOS by 4 wickets at Acle in the Carter Junior Cup.
Melton U17s scraped through to the knock-out stages of the Carter Junior Cup, but only just! Having bowled and fielded well to restrict Broadland Broncos to 103-4, a bit of complacency set in. With in-form batsmen like the Greenslade brothers and Kieron Pask, Melton took the attitude that knocking off 104 runs in 20 overs was a mere formality. The Broncos, however, had other ideas. When Chris Greenslade was bowled by Larner for 7 and Kieron Pask departed, caught at deep mid-wicket for 18, things began to look more difficult. The left-arm spin of R.King (4-2-10-2) was tying the Melton batsmen in knots and, when Connor Stearman (10) and Michael Farmer (4) also departed, the score stood at 70-4 with only 5 overs remaining and there were signs of panic in the Melton ranks. Darshan Rai was sent in to try to bludgeon a few quick runs and, the tactic worked with Rai hitting what proved a match-winning 21. Joey Greenslade provided the backbone to the innings with 24 but, when he became Fisher’s third catching victim at deep mid-wicket, the game was still in the balance. Rai and Joe Bickel (6 not out) scampered a few runs but the last over arrived with Melton still needing 2 to win. The first ball, by Larner, was a dot, Rai was bowled by the second and James Robb couldn’t get a bat on the third but the fourth, wide of leg stump, flew down to the unguarded fine-leg boundary for four and the Phoenix could celebrate a narrow win.
Earlier a powerful attack had restricted Broadland to 103. Jennings (18), Gooch (18 not out) and King (24 not out) all spent time at the wicket but, against Rai (3-0-15-2), Greenslade (3-0-5-1), Robb (2-0-7-0) and Bickel (4-1-14-1) in particular, runs were never easy. Melton used 7 bowlers but didn’t use 1st Team opening bowler Pask who had a slight injury. Srangely, Larner who had scored an unbeaten 76 for Acle against Melton U15s in the Andy Seeley Quarter-Final wasn’t used by the Broncos as he was down to bat at 7 and didn’t get in.
Manager Dave Bickel was pleased with some aspects of the performance with the bowling attack a match for any U17 side and a good standard of fielding throughout but it needed Rai and young Greenslade to rescue what should have been a strong batting line-up. In matches against Lowestoft and Broadland players have gone into games with an over-confident attitude. Broadland’s young side very nearly caused an upset but Melton scraped through and learned a lesson about ‘not counting chickens’ or under-estimating opponents that will, hopefully, serve them well in the later stages of the competition.