THE season is finally underway after the horror-show that has been the early season weather. The first weekend proved to be a mixed bag for the three teams, producing a win for the 3rd XI , a defeat for the 1st XI , and a cancellation for the 2nd XI.
1ST XI lost by 2-wickets vs White Horse
It proved to be a frustrating start to life in Division 3 for Adam Mitchell and his side, with the 1st XI being edged out by White Horse CC by just two-wickets. Melksham thoroughly dominated the opening half of the first innings thanks to a hefty opening stand from the skipper (80) and Lewie Simmons (61). The pair powered Melksham towards a total of 146; however, once Mitchell was caught in the 29th over, the innings quickly began to unravel.
Simmons and debutant number three batsman Paul Merrett (11) went soon after, allowing White Horse to turn the screw on the home-side. Joe Veacock (14) would be the only other batsman to make double figures as Melksham then slumped to a total of 192 all out from inside 43 overs. Nothing emphasised how swift the collapse of the tail was more than the fact that number six batsman Tom Wallis was left stranded not out on seven.
Melksham were nevertheless still well in the match and were given a fantastic early boost when opening bowler Liam Merrett picked up two early wickets. He and fellow seamer Rich Hemmings kept things tight early on but were unable to force any more breakthroughs as White Horse settled down after their early wobble. The visitors’ third wicket partnership of Ravi Kumar and Jon Candy made 81 to put their side firmly in control.
Melksham would have to wait until halfway through the innings to finally make the breakthrough, with skipper Mitchell finally snaring the key wicket of Kumar in the 23rd over. A few overs later Merrett, returning for his second spell, picked up two more wickets to help his side reassert themselves in the match, in the process helping himself to figures of 4-22.
As the game reached its conclusion, it would be White Horse’s number five Luke Leach who would decide the result, even with tail order wobbling around him thanks to wickets from Mitchell (3-55) and Veacock (1-30). His innings of 58 not out ensured that his side got over the line with two wickets to spare, condemning Melksham to a losing start to the campaign.
3rd XI won by 18 runs vs Winsley 4s
It proved to be a great day for the 3rd XI however, who celebrated their inaugural match with an 18-run victory away to Winsley 4s. The day’s play provided plenty of grounds for optimism for the future, with several youngsters playing key roles in a winning start for Dave Light’s new side.
Melksham produced a solid first innings display with the bat, with watchful knocks from Dan Carpenter (35) and Tony Trotman (37) helping to get the visitors to a solid base of 117-2 off 30 overs. The middle order was then able to take advantage of these foundations. Aggressive knocks from Gareth Evans (28) and Steve Burns (45) powered Melksham to a commanding first innings total of 220-5 off 45 overs.
The momentum continued into the second innings, with Finn Evans claiming the wickets of both Winsley openers to put the early squeeze on the home side. Impressive opening spells from him and fellow youngster Finley Burns, along with a run-out from Carpenter, gave Melksham the early advantage with Winsley’s score reading 47-3 after 15 overs. However, number three batsman Lewis Randall was proving to be a thorn in the side of the visitors, helping Winsley to keep up with the run-rate and make sure that Melksham could ill-afford to become complacent.
In the meantime, it was young spinner Mustafa Nasiri who was stealing the show. He, playing only his second ever league match, produced an exciting spell of 3-34 to help ensure the away side had their noses in front as the innings reached the half-way stage. The continued failure to dismiss Randall though meant that Winsley were still very much in the contest. He and number eight batsman Charlie Gennard were able to dig in and form a solid 7th wicket partnership; one that swung the game back in Winsley’s favour, asking a lot of questions from a young Melksham side as the game reached its climax.
Just when it looked like the hosts were about to kick on and seal the win, returning opener Finn Evans produced two extremely tight overs to force Winsley back behind the run-rate. The pressure this created allowed Finley Burns to finally take the key wicket of Randall (85) to finally open the door to victory for Melksham. Burns claimed another wicket (finishing 2-52 on his league debut), whilst the final two wickets came from Tony Trotman and Steve Burns to cap off a successful first outing for the 3s.