Debutants impress as A’s hold Hardingham
Great Melton A (13 Points) tied with Hardingham (14) at Melton Park in Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division Four
Great Melton A:
M Bunn c Falcon b Turner 59
M Farmer b Falcon 8
J Ellse b Turner 33
J Pearse b S Hastings 73
P Stearman caught b Turner 11
L Whiddett Run Out 0
G Ducker caught b S Hastings 20
N Clarke Not Out 8
S Clarke Run Out 5
T Smith b Downes 0
C Wright Not Out 0
Total (9 Wickets, 46 Overs) 255
J Scott 8-0-54-0, B Falcon 9-2-39-1, M Hastings 12-1-56-0, J Turner 12-1-69-3, S Hastings 3-0-14-2, J Downes 2-0-7-1
B Scott b Wright 21
J Downes c N Clarke b Smith 22
R Fowle c Ducker b N Clarke 50
C Sparkes Run Out (Ducker) 26
T Fletcher Not Out 53
J Goody c Ellse b Clarke 23
J Turner b Smith 2
J Scott b Smith 25
B Falcon Not Out 15
Total (7 Wickets, 46 Overs) 255
C Wright 10-1-38-1, T Smith 12-2-56-3, M Farmer 4-0-31-0, P Stearman 8-1-47-0, N Clarke 12-0-78-2
Excellent Alliance debuts from Jon Ellse and Jack Pearse saw Great Melton A produce arguably their best performance of the season in a thrilling tie with league leaders Hardingham at Melton Park, an impressive young side surely destined for an immediate return to Division Three.
Melton went into the fixture looking to erase the memory of a dreadful defeat at Hardingham early in the season, when they were shot out for just 69. One look at the teamsheet gave cause for optimism however, as Martin Bunn and Chris Wright returned to the side, joined by South African debutant Jonathan Ellse, impressive in the Sunday league this season, and Jack Pearse, a former Swardeston opener with considerable Alliance Premier Division experience.
Those players were to play a pivotal role as, despite the early loss of Michael Farmer (8) having been put into bat, Bunn and Ellse compiled a stand of 69 for the second wicket as the score rattled along to 102-1 in the 20th over, Hardingham making some uncharacteristic fielding errors. Bunn went for a brisk 59 allowing Pearse to enter the fray, and despite almost chipping to mid-on early, the 6’8” batsman did not disappoint. He and Ellse took the score to 149 in the 30th over before Ellse was bowled for 33, but Pearse went on, unfurling some tremendous straight drives and adding 39 more runs with Paul Stearman (11). When Stearman departed, skipper Lee Whiddett was rather unfortunately run out backing up as a Pearse drive deflected onto the non-striker’s stumps, but with George Ducker joining Pearse the position was still promising at 188-5 in the 37th over.
Ducker looked in good touch in pulling his way to 20 and he and Pearse accelerated impressively as 40 runs were added in just 5 overs. Both departed in quick succession, a tired looking Pearse finally out for 73 in his first game for 4 years, but by then Melton were 238-7 with still 4 overs left. Neal and Steve Clarke ran well to add a few more quick runs as Melton closed on an impressive 255-9, by far their best batting display of the season.
Against any other side in the Division that would surely have been a score worthy of at least a winning draw, but Hardingham, full of confidence, set about the run chase with gusto as the impressive openers Scott and Downes tried to take the game to their hosts. To their credit, Chris Wright and Tom Smith bowled fine opening spells and as the batsmen were forced to take greater risks, so the breakthrough came when Smith removed Downes for 22, the score 36-1 from 10 overs. When Scott (21) was then bowled by Wright, Hardingham were well behind the rate at 53-2 from 15 overs.
Hardingham’s depth was, however, apparent as Robbie Fowle and C Sparkes tucked into some loose deliveries from an out-of-sorts Farmer and as the game entered the middle phase it was clear that the run chase was still on. They moved the score onto 116 in the 24th over, scoring freely until Sparkes was superbly run out from mid-wicket by another George Ducker direct hit.
That brought Hardingham skipper Toby Fletcher to the crease and he looked in impressive touch from the start. The score progressed to 146 in the 31st over until Neal Clarke made the vital breakthrough when Fowle was pouched by Ducker for 50. Goody and Fletcher continued to play their shots and Hardingham were 186 from 38 overs when a skyer from Goody was superbly caught by Ellse running from mid-off to mid-on.
The game looked in the balance but the returning Tom Smith produced a fine spell to remove Turner and leave the visitors needing 47 from the last 5 overs with only 4 wickets left. However, all the time Fletcher was still scoring freely and he found support from J Scott (25) until he also fell to a Smith yorker. With two overs left Hardingham needed 23 and that became 15 after Smith’s final over. But from the first ball Falcon smashed a Clarke full toss into the tree branches for 4. Four more runs followed from the next 3 balls leaving 7 needed from the last two, when Pearse was unable to prevent another Falcon boundary. From the final ball, Farmer was unable to cleanly pick up the ball giving the batsmen just enough time to get back for two runs and leave the scores tied.