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Sat. 20th July. Division 4 Marlborough 2s 216-5 Melksham 175-8
Melksham 1s suffered yet another reverse in what is proving to be a difficult season; failing to capitalize on an impressive win against Wroughton Wranglers, by losing to bottom placed Marlborough 2s by 41 runs.
With skipper Joe Veacock winning the toss and wisely opting to field first on a rain-affected track, the visitors got off to a fine start with the ball; efficiently stifling the Marlborough run-rate to a bare minimum. Liam Merrett announced his long-awaited return to the side in impressive fashion, claiming an impressive low catch to get his side going for the afternoon. With 18 overs gone, the hosts were stranded on a mere 38-2 – both wickets courtesy of Chris Long – with Melksham now having good grounds for optimism that they continue to turn the screw and bowl Marlborough out for a below par total.
Sadly, this proved to be far from the case; as during the second half of the innings Marlborough’s 3rd wicket partnership seized the initiative to put their side on the front foot. Youngster Freddie Honeybone produced a decent bowling display in the middle overs, but no wicket was forthcoming from either him or his fellow bowlers and soon frustration began to creep into Melksham’s game. A couple of guilt-edged catching opportunities were spurned in the field; and as Veacock began to experiment with his bowling options during the last third of the innings, the run-rate began to soar. Not until the 41st over was another wicket claimed, and by this time Marlborough had now racked up a formidable 185-3. In the end, the home side finished on 216-5, with Matt Hunt claiming a couple of late wickets on his surprise call up to the bowling attack, leaving Melksham with another difficult run-chase.
The reply began in tense fashion, with openers Hunt and Chris Long finding runs hard to come by against a pacey Marlborough attack. The former departed in the 8th over having made just 6; and with the run-rate failing to accelerate soon thereafter, the pressure eventually told on his partner when he also went for a meagre 4. Incoming batsmen Veacock and Russell Collins found runs somewhat easier to come by than their predecessors, getting their side past the 50 mark come the 20 over stage. But when the time came to kick on, both batsmen soon fell, Collins for 17 and Veacock for 23. When Tom Bew and Daniel Carpenter were also quickly dismissed having made just 4 runs each, Melksham suddenly appeared to be dead and buried.
Jack Footner however refused to be daunted by his side’s predicament. Immediately upon arriving at the crease he embarked on a savage assault on the Marlborough bowling, regularly dispatching the ball to all parts of the field to maintain a glimmer of hope for his side. He quickly chalked up a fifty for the second week running, but unfortunately none of his partners were able to match his ferocious strike-rate and Melksham were never quite able to stay in touch, despite Footner’s heroics. In the end he met his demise in the final over – departing the crease having made a brilliant 88 given the circumstances – as his side eventually wound up well short of their challenging target.
Defeat means Melksham remain stranded in 8th position in Division 4, just one place ahead of the relegation zone. Although there is still some daylight between themselves and 9th place for now, performances will need to improve considerably over the next few weeks in order for the team to be sure of survival.