By Dan Carpenter
Melksham 1s difficult start to their Division 4 campaign continued with a 3-wicket defeat away to Wroughton Wranglers in what was another low-scoring affair.
Facing the prospect of playing on a slow wicket where run scoring would not come easily, the traveling side lost the toss and were put into bat. The early loss of Dan Carpenter got the innings off to a bad start, but the 2nd wicket partnership of Russell Collins and Ed Skippings initially adapted well to both the tricky conditions and some tidy Wroughton bowling. They maintained a slow but steady run-rate through to the 16th over, during which Collins was dismissed for 23 to leave his side 35-2. Skipper Joe Veacock came to the crease looking to play more expansively, but he was only able to muster 9 runs before he was caught on the boundary. When Skippings followed him back to the pavilion the following over to leave the score at 47-4, Melksham were suddenly in big trouble.
Tom Bew now came to crease and would establish himself as the one of the bright sparks of the Melksham innings, patiently playing himself in before displaying some impressive shots including 3 well struck sixes. Unfortunately for him he was unable to form a partnership of any significance as fellow batsmen came and went, meaning Melksham now faced the prospect of failing to reach triple-figures for the second week running. Bew was eventually bowled for 32, and soon after the final wicket of Rich Bryant fell to leave Melksham all out for 91.
The away side were aware they faced a difficult task defending such a low total. However, they were also very mindful of just how difficult runs were to score due to both the wicket and the slow outfield, so did not take to the field completely devoid of hope. Wroughton opener M.Farooq took a surprisingly bombastic approach to the situation, but this quickly proved to be his undoing when Andy Footner trapped him LBW in the 5th over. The Wroughton 2nd wicket partnership plodded along during the next 10 overs to reach 36-1 to keep the Melksham attack frustrated.
A flurry of wickets, including a brilliantly taken caught-and-bowled from Footner, suddenly left the home-side 41-4 and gave the fielding-team renewed confidence that they could pull off the most unlikely of comeback wins. These hopes were gradually extinguished thanks to the efforts of Wroughton batsmen M.Evans and T.Read, who weathered the storm well to push their side towards the brink of victory. A second burst of wickets late in the chase threatened to make affairs interesting once again, but Wroughton were ultimately able to see themselves home with three wickets remaining.
Although Melksham were able to walk of the pitch satisfied with another good bowling display, with Gary Ings the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-21, another desperate batting performance condemns them to 8th place after just 2 matches in what has proved to be a disappointing start to life in Division 4.