MELKSHAM 1st XI have hit their stride at just the right time as the race for promotion from Wiltshire County League Division 3 nears its climax. Wins against Potterne 3s and Combe Down have ensured that they occupy second spot going into the final weekend of the season.
The win at home over Potterne 3s was set up by yet another mammoth innings from skipper Adam Mitchell. He and fellow opener Lewie Simmons (64) got the innings off to the best possible start with a first wicket partnership of 154. The departure of Simmons and the loss of further wickets thereafter did little to stifle Mitchell’s momentum, who finished on a score of 173 as his side posted 305-6.
Any hopes that Potterne may have entertained of mounting a heroic run-chase in the second innings were quickly dashed thanks to a fast start from the Melksham bowlers, with quick bowlers Liam Merrett (1-34) and Ben Brown (2-46) making early inroads to further strengthen Melksham’s grip on the match.
Further wickets from Gary Ings (3-16), Mitchell (2-23), Chris Singh (1-16) and Steve Rendell (1-1) were enough to finish the job for the hosts, although the Potterne tail did wag slightly to allow them to reach a respectable total of 164.
The following week’s triumph away to Combe Down was equally as empathic, although this time it was the bowlers who seized the early initiative to help lay the foundations for victory. A trio of quick wickets left Combe Down reeling on 15-3 off six overs, a position they were never able to stage a recovery from thanks to the efforts of spinners Mitchell (3-21) and Singh (3-9).
By the end the innings Combe Down had limped to a meagre total of 123, a target that Melksham had barely any trouble chasing down thanks to another top innings from Mitchell. He guided his side to a comfortable 8-wicket victory with an unbeaten 75, a win which strengthened their grip on second place with just one game of the season remaining. Standing in their way next week will be league leaders Royal Wootton Bassett 2s, with anything less than a win from Melksham opening the door for third place White Horse on what promises to be a dramatic final day of the season.
The 2nd team also strengthened their hopes for promotion from Division 8 with two resounding wins of their own, moving them into the top two for the 1st time this season with just one game left to play. The first win, a 9-wicket win away to Lacock 2s, was set up by a tidy 1st innings bowling display which saw wickets from John Wiltshire (3-27), George Briggs (2-18), Tom Watling (2-28) and Luke Wilkins (1-23) help restrict Lacock to a chaseable total of 140.
Although the 2nd innings was hardly an exhibition of free-flowing batting, top order batsmen Dan Carpenter (51*), Ross Holbrook (38) and Tony Trotman (33*) applied themselves well to get the job done for the loss of just one wicket.
Their second match of the fortnight, a home tie against bottom of the table Bathford 2s, didn’t get to the best of starts with the early departures of openers Carpenter (0) and Ian Doyle (11). Thankfully Holbrook and Trotman were able to patch up the innings with a patient 63-run 3rd wicket stand, before the dismissal of Holbrook (27) allowed Tom Bew to come the crease. He completely changed the complexion of the game with a bombastic knock of 79 which, a handy score of 77 from Trotman, powered Melksham towards a total of 225-3, a score which proved well beyond the reach of Bathford.
They would be dismissed for a lowly score of 130 in the 2nd innings, with Andy Footner leading the charge for Melksham with figures of 5-26 to help seal a 95-run victory. Standing in their way next week will be a trip to Calne 3s, with Allington 2s and Corsham 4s waiting in the wings should they slip up in any away.