A’s turn the tables and kick a nasty habit as league leaders are vanquished by Sims and Pearse
Great Melton A (25 Points) beat Garboldisham A (8) by 18 runs at Garboldisham in Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division Four
It was ironic as several Melton players inhaled their ‘Vape' pens that the A's sought to rid themselves of a collective dirty habit of their own. A habit of losing close games, two from the very last ball, which has seen them plummet to the foot of a Division Four in which they really are good enough to have won more games than the meagre two garnered before today's fixture, at the undefeated, rampant league leaders Garboldisham A.
It looked a tough task but the A's were certainly boosted by fielding their strongest XI of the season so far, with Jack Pearse, Sam Mann, Nick Aston and Paul Stearman all bolstering Simon Woods' middle order.
Duly winning the toss on a decent looking wicket, Woods felt that runs on the board were key and that looked like a decision likely to pay dividends as Woody Loines and Tim Hales once again produced a fine opening stand of 52 as the score rattled along. Hales went to a decent catch off opposition skipper Feaveryear for 19 but at 52-1 from 11 overs it looked a solid base. Lee Whiddett joined Loines and they took the score to 76 but the 18th over proved disastrous as Loines (39) holed out before Whiddett (9) was bowled by a ball that cut back from Philpott. 76-3 from 18 overs looked less rosy for the struggling visitors. Philpott was to go on to record an excellent 3-40 from 8 overs, making the most of considerable seam movement available from the wicket, which was not as hard as the usual excellent Garboldisham surfaces, likely due to recent weather.
Jack Pearse is a cricketer of considerable pedigree. Stints at EAPL level with Swardeston are a testament to that, and it runs in the family as his Dad's appearance in the ‘over-70 Ashes' will testify. Alas, this has not been his season with the bat, and he was still unable to open his Alliance runs account in his third innings of the season at that level after he was pinned in front for a duck for Philpott's third wicket.
At 81-4 from 20 overs, the innings looked to be in danger of imploding. Sam Mann and Paul Stearman are fine stroke players, but not necessarily renowned for ‘hanging around' and so it was pleasing to see Mann playing sensibly, the foil to Stearman's strokeplay, as they added a crucial 72 for the fifth wicket. Stearman played some shots that might be described as more belligerent than beautiful, and was dropped twice and survived a close stumping shout, but in between he hit some mighty boundaries including a huge six over extra cover, and his 45 was priceless in the circumstances. At 149 in the 32nd over, Stearman finally holed out and that precipitated another mini collapse as Nick Aston was bowled for a duck and Sam Mann (28) went in injudicious fashion as he was easily run out attempting a second run. At 155-7 from 35 overs the innings was once again on the precipice on a pitch where around 230 looked par.
Fortunately with Matty Henderson at 8, Melton still had at least one bullet in their chamber. He produced a sensible knock mixed with some brutal hitting through the ‘Village V' and joined by Ryan Hayward, who struck some lovely shots including three boundaries in his 12 before eventually being bowled (again), they managed to edge the total up to 184 from 40 overs. It was Henderson (21) and the commander, Simon Woods (10no) who along with the ‘Hairy Egg', Rob Sims (3no) managed to winkle the score over the 200 mark in the final over as Melton closed on 204, a decent effort when they looked at certain stages unlikely to bat out their overs, although perhaps nevertheless slightly below par.
Jonny Wyatt destroyed Melton with a magnificent ton at Melton Park earlier in the season, and so as he walked out to open the batting it was clear that he would need to be sent back sooner rather than later to give the plucky Meltonites a chance to defend their score. Sadly, whilst Matt Henderson did remove Whistler for 4 in only the fourth over, Wyatt and Worby were brought together and they gave the erstwhile Henderson and Ryan Hayward some fearful ‘tap', as the scoreboard rattled at breakneck speed onto 66-1 after 11 overs. Pace off looked necessary, and with Nick Aston tweaking his back and needing to leave the field, Woods had little option but to turn to the twin spin options of Rob Sims and Lee Whiddett. Whiddett has produced a couple of solid bowling performances in recent weeks, and he played very much second-fiddle to Sims' concerto, keeping things tight at his end and building pressure which Sims might exploit. As the rate began to slow, in what was to be a spell of 16 overs in tandem yielding only 60 and would bring with it five wickets, all for the burly left-armer, Melton took a grip on the game. In the main, it was the grip of Jack Pearse which was decisive, as he took no less than four catches off the bowling of Sims to remove Worby (47), Asker (6), Stevenson (2) and Buckmaster (7), those having followed a superb caught and bowled to dismiss the dangerous Wyatt for 47, breaking a second wicket stand in excess of 80.
At 140-6 from 30 overs, the game was well balanced with 65 runs needed for a home victory. Paul Stearman replaced Sims when he completed his superb spell of 9-1-28-5, and he duly removed Olpin after a sharp stumping by Woods, and then Philpott chopped on for 19 as Melton sensed victory. 147-8 from 33 overs became 161-9 from 38 as Tim Hales somehow grabbed himself a wicket in an over that can only be described as ‘right-arm dirt' when Feaveryear tamely looped the ball straight back to him. With 44 runs still required victory looked assured.
However, this is a season where nothing has come easily for the A's. Young No.11 Southgate found two boundaries through third man, and Rowan Freake continued to look accomplished as the score edged past 170, and then 180, as the tension began to mount. With 23 needed from the last 5 overs, the run rate did not look to be a major issue.
Freake's, and Garboldisham's, final undoing was when Freake sought a quick single to get back on strike after Southgate had nurdled the ball around to Pearse, still poised at square leg where the ‘specialist fielder' had proved a ball magnet for most of the game. Pearse picked up the ball and duly demolished the stumps at the bowler's end, to spark a group hug and jubilant scenes. Finally, the A's had got over the line.
Now, to rescue this disappointing season, they must do it again…
Great Melton A:
T Hales ct b Feaveryear 19
D Loines ct b Philpott 39
L Whiddett b Philpott 9
J Pearse lbw b Philpott 0
S Mann Run Out 28
P Stearman ct b Buckmaster 45
N Aston b Olpin 0
M Henderson ct b Buckmaster 21
R Hayward b Buckmaster 12
S Woods Not Out 10
R Sims Not Out 3
Total (9 Wickets, 45 Overs) 204
B Asker 3-0-21-0, G Southgate 5-0-18-0, P Feaveryear 8-0-37-1, P Philpott 8-2-40-3, R Olpin 9-1-32-1, J Buckmaster 9-0-36-3, R Freake 3-0-16-0
J Wyatt c & b Sims 41
A Whistler lbw b Henderson 4
J Worby c Pearse b Sims 47
B Asker c Pearse b Sims 6
J Stevenson c Pearse b Sims 2
J Buckmaster c Pearse b Sims 7
R Olpin st Woods b Stearman 10
D Philpott b Stearman 19
R Freake Not Out 24
P Feaveryear c & b Hales 3
G Southgate Run Out (Pearse) 8
Total (All Out, 42.2 Overs) 186
R Hayward 7-047-0, M Henderson 9-0-46-1, L Whiddett 9-0-39-0, R Sims 9-1-28-5, P Stearman 5.2-1-20-2, T Hales 1-0-4-1