Invincible A Team pushed to the very edge
Garboldisham A 196 / 9 (13pts) drew with Great Melton A – 197 / ao (14pts) at Garboldisham in Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division Four
By Leo De Salis
On a day of sunshine and showers, the need for, and worth of, keeping a well tended and accurate scorecard perhaps cost Garboldisham a win. In a second consecutive dramatic close finish, Great Melton A managed to maintain their unbeaten record with a combination of steeled nerve and good leadership. Unavailability meant that Melton awarded long awaited, and much deserved, Alliance debuts to Nick MacKenzie and Liam Hughes. Both would play significant parts in proceedings.
Losing the toss in this format invariably means that unless the side batting first scores big, they will be under pressure. To avoid that, someone needs to register a ton, and someone else needs a fifty. Martin Bunn has been Melton’s rock thus far this season, but he was unable to suppress the exaggerated bounce from opening bowler Halliwell, and was caught at second slip via parry from first. 0 for 1 in the first over, was so nearly 0 for 2 as Captain Whiddett survived a good lbw shout.
Whilst Halliwell was all fire and brimstone, his partner Emms, by far the best home bowler, was tight and controlled. His first 3 overs were all maidens, and ended with the bizarre dismissal of Hughes, who did not return to his crease and was run out by a direct throw from the wicket keeper. 6 overs down and 16 on the board.
Diminutive Sam Mann strode purposefully to the wicket, resolved to set about rebuilding the innings. Halliwell seemed determined to cause the batsmen as much pain as possible, peppering Whiddett, who had huge welts as testimony of his battling knock, and striking Sam a nasty blow on the forearm. Surviving that onslaught, the pair moved the score along with growing confidence and ease, Lee even managing to clip a lovely arcing 6 over the mid wicket boundary and into the nearby stubble. Their partnership of 72 in 17 overs was broken as Sam could not quite reach his half century, caught at slip off Olpin, to be replaced by an equally determined George Ducker.
The visitor’s ‘Ducker Stand', swollen to capacity, clapped and cheered in collective delight, as Ged improvised some outrageous shots, including the champagne moment as he executed a sensational hook whilst almost sat on the floor, in an entertaining innings, as 54 were added in 9 overs in pursuit of a very competitive and challenging total.
Paul Stearman and Nick MacKenzie are both hard hitting batsmen, who on their day can take attacks apart. This, however, was not one of those days, and both perished without reaching double figures. Lee passed his 50 with a 3, but running out of partners, and steam, was bowled by Allin. One swallow does not a summer make, but the skipper provided a welcome reminder of his ability to make important runs at this level. The lower order batsmen desperately tried to pass the 200 mark, but fell short as both Woods and Coulson were run out.
Inexplicably for the home side, Emms only bowled 7 overs, 5 of which were maidens, otherwise Melton’s total may have been smaller than it was.
Seeking to exploit the bounce from the copse end, Whiddett opened with MacKenzie. The move looked a good one, as the new ball whistled past the batsman’s shoulders and thudded into Woods’ gloves.
At the road end, de Salis enhanced his growing reputation for providing much needed control. His third ball was skied to point, where Ged downed a normally straight forward chance to give home skipper Melvin his first reprieve. The wily seamer, on occasions garnering some extravagant late swing, bowled impressively without reward, though induced another genuine edge from Melvin, spilled at first slip, and saw Allin dropped at cover by Hughes.
Controversy bubbled in the third over as a clear nick behind was turned down. Taylor did not have to endure much more from MacKenzie though, as he became the bowler’s first alliance wicket, Ducker making plenty of ground to snaffle a difficult chance at mid wicket.
Coulson, returning to the A’s after impressively leading the B Team attack all season, sparked more controversy as Allin snicked behind to once again stand his ground to await the umpire’s decision. That none came, despite acknowledgement from square leg that there was a nick, caused much ill feeling, and unsettled the visitors for some time.
At 103 off 26 overs, the home side looked well set to overhaul Melton’s total. Whiddett rung the changes in the bowling with Gristwood coming down wind from the Copse End to try to extract more unsettling bounce. He induced a rash shot from Allin, and the door was pushed slightly ajar.
Melvin continued to batter away, passing 50. Buckmaster came and went having barely registered. Whistler, though he provided only 4, shared a 54 run partnership with Melvin, who was by now taking it upon himself to chase down Melton’s total. A couple of typically hard hit four’s brought up his hundred, to respectful applause from all.
Hughes then spun his web, with Woods taking 2 catches behind the stumps to rip out the middle order.
Fidler came in and blasted a quick 21, depositing the ball in the surrounding field, whilst joining the growing list to dropped catches, and so nearly took Garboldisham over the line. He though fell to the Gristwood –MacKenzie double act, as the debutant ran in from the boundary to take a steepler, and when Stearman held on to a cut from Melvin, with the score on 179 for 6 with three overs left, the match was evenly poised.
It was at this stage that the need to keep an accurate book could come back to haunt the hosts, as the scorecard and board were actually missing 4 runs, and the game was tighter than anyone realised. Gristwood and MacKenzie held their nerve as the field spread, and Garboldisham fell – they thought – 5 runs short of a tie. That it was only 1 run was only discovered some hours later as the score card was tallied up, and may have made a big difference in how the last two overs were played out.
Great Melton A: M Bunn – ct Olpin b Halliwell 0
L Whiddett b Allin 60
L Hughes run out 5
S Mann ct b Olpin 47
G Ducker b Buckmaster 24
P Stearman ct b Buckmaster 8
N MacKenzie ct b Buckmaster 6
N Gristwood lbw Buckmaster 4
S Woods run out 14
L de Salis not out 8
G Coulson run out 5
Extras 16 total 197 / 10
Garboldisham A: J Halliwell 9 overs 0 maidens 42 runs 1 wicket
A Emms 7 – 5 – 7 – 0
P Feveryear 8 – 1 47 – 0
C Olpin 8 – 1 – 25 – 1
J Buckmaster 8 – 1 34 – 4
M Allin 6 – 0 33 – 1
Garboldisham A – L Taylor ct Ducker b Mackenzie 6
I Melvin ct Stearman b Mackenzie 108
M Allin ct MacKenzie b Gristwood 28
J Buckmaster ct Hughes b Gristwood
A Whistler ct Woods b Hughes 4
J Dunkinson ct Woods b Hughes 0
T Fidler ct MacKenzie b Gristwood 21
C Olpin run out 2
P Feveryear not out 4
J Halliwell ct Woods by Gristwood 0
A Emms not out 0
Extras 14 total 196 / 9
Great Melton A N MacKenzie 12 – 0 – 47 – 2
L de Salis 12 – 3 – 32 – 0
G Coulson 6 – 0 – 36 – 0
N Gristwood 7 – 0 33 – 4
L Hughes 9 – 1 – 44 – 2