A’s seal remarkable season with promotion confirmed and unbeaten record intact
D Littlehales b Gristwood 69
J Noonan b Greenslade 2
W Defoe c G Bunn b De Salis 11
T Bart b De Salis 10
S Halls c Ducker b Greenslade 25
M Thresh c Gristwood b Smith 0
L Abel Not Out 20
J Bunting b Gristwood 9
S Pearce Not Out 6
Total (7 Wickets, 46 Overs) 197
L De Salis 12-3-39-2, C Greenslade 9-1-36-2, M Farmer 7-1-28-0, T Smith 7-0-32-1, N Gristwood 7-0-37-2, L Whiddett 4-0-15-0
Great Melton A:
M Bunn c & b Thresh 49
G Bunn c & b Howell 43
C Greenslade c & b Howell 31
S Mann Not Out 28
G Ducker c Howell b Noonan 24
L Whiddett Not Out 4
Total (4 Wickets, 41.5 Overs) 201
J Bunting 11-2-28-0, J Rowell 5-0-42-0, B Howell 10-0-45-2, S Pearce 7-1-30-0, M Thresh 6-0-26-1, J Noonan 1.5-0-9-1, D Littlehales 1-1-0-0
It was a fitting finale for Great Melton A to an outstanding season as they deservedly and stylishly confirmed runners-up spot and promotion from Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division Four with a comprehensive six wicket triumph over Rocklands at a sunny Melton Park.
It was not all plain sailing, as despite Lee Whiddett winning an important toss, with 10 points needed to guarantee promotion, a decent looking Rocklands top order played with a freshness and freedom that threatened to spoil the A's planned promotion celebrations. Whilst Rocklands' top run scorer, Jack Noonan, was kept quiet and then castled by a superb Chris Greenslade yorker, Greenslade struggled badly with wides and no-balls and with Dan Littlehales determined to take on Leo De Salis over the top, Rocklands moved from 25-1 from 10 overs to 91-3 from 24 overs, with dangerous opposition skipper Will Defoe and Tom Bart both falling to Leo De Salis, who has had an outstanding season and took 2-39 from another 12 over spell.
Despite those wickets, nevertheless runs were flowing a little too freely for the A's liking, and at 126-3 from 30 overs Rocklands looked capable of posting 230-240. But the brakes were applied by Tom Smith in a fine spell and Greenslade then returned to take the important wicket of Steven Halls when he drove a catch to gully where Martin Bunn somehow managed to parry the ball across to George Ducker at backward point.
When Tom Smith then removed Matthew Thresh for a duck, Rocklands had been halted in their progress to 154-5 from 38 overs, and when Nick Gristwood then dismissed Littlehales for 69, the Rocklands lower order struggled to maintain the momentum. Lee Whiddett bowled a useful 4 over spell at the death, conceding only 15 runs, and Gristwood finished with the wicket of Jonny Bunting to record 7-0-37-2 as Rocklands could only muster 197-7.
The total still looked potentially challenging on a slow-ish, end of season wicket. But Martin Bunn and his nephew, George, dispelled any concerns as George, in particular, got after James Rowell early and Melton raced to 52-0 from 10 overs. News filtered through of attempts by Winterton to contact Rocklands' players for news, but what they heard would not have given them any cheer, as Bunn's quickfire 43 took Melton to 76 in the 18th over when he finally chipped a catch back to the bowler. By then, however, the perfect platform had been laid.
Chris Greenslade, keen to make a swift return to the Sundown music festival, made a breezy 31 as Melton went to 130 in just the 26th over, before he and then Martin Bunn (49) were both also caught and bowled to leave the A's 143-3 from 31 overs.
178 runs was the initial target to all but guarantee promotion, and it was Sam Mann and George Ducker who both played some fine shots to take Melton to that total in the 38th over, giving them the knowledge that, short of being bowled out, the 10 points required had been secured. Still they went on and they were not separated until the scores were level on 197, when Ducker was dismissed for 24. That introduced the skipper, Whiddett, to the wicket, and despite his protestations, Mann, goaded by his team-mates, blocked out a maiden in an effort to give his skipper the honour of despatching the winning run. Fortunately, from the 5th ball of the 42nd over, Whiddett managed to clip a ball through fine leg for four to complete a fairytale season for the A's, who finished with 9 wins, 3 winning draws, 1 losing draw and 0 defeats from their ‘invincible' campaign.
So many players stood up and produced in tough situations to achieve this promotion, ultimately by 16pts ahead of Winterton, who defeated Stow A on the last day. Those 16pts were garnered from such performances as a 1 wicket win at Mundford, a 2 wicket win when 100-8 chasing 160 against Sheringham, and remarkable winning draws over Brooke A (kept 1 run short when needing only 4 to win from the final 2 overs with 5 wickets remaining) and Garboldisham A (kept 3 runs short). Those tremendous results were thanks to a number of remarkable performances, but the stand out performances from Martin Bunn (132 v Hales), Leo De Salis (several 12 over spells for less than 30 all season), Simon Woods (match winning batting v Sheringham and Mundford), Michael Farmer (double wicket maiden in the penultimate over v Brooke A), Paul Stearman (50 from less than 30 balls v Hales), Nick Gristwood (a fine partnership with Woods v Sheringham) and Paul Movel (5 wickets and a brilliant last over v Brooke A) are worthy of mention. What a season, what a team!