By Dan Carpenter
Melksham 1s made it two wins on-the-bounce; securing a 45-run victory on the road against Nationwide House 2.
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, the traveling side were blessed with a good batting track; but would also have to be mindful of dealing with an extremely slow outfield. Matt Hunt, fresh from scoring a hundred the previous week, got the innings off to a solid start along with opening partner Dan Carpenter. After 10 overs the pair had put on 32 for the 1st wicket partnership, before Carpenter was bowled for 8. This brought Collins to the crease, who went on to make a similar contribution of 9 before being dismissed caught-and-bowled.
Hunt was now joined by Tom Bew, with the two in-form batsmen quickly going on the offensive against the Nationwide attack. The remaining opener continued to make steady progress towards fifty, whilst Bew impressed once again with some impressive hitting; striking 3 sixes on his way to 23. When Bew eventually departed, sharing a partnership of 49 with Hunt, Melksham were in a healthy position of 99-3 after 25 overs.
Unfortunately, the batting side were unable to kick on after their solid start. Skipper Joe Veacock (12) and Chris Long (0) were quickly back in the pavilion soon after Bew, bringing youngster Freddie Honeybone to the crease. He was able to hold an end up whilst Hunt continued to score freely. But when the main man was bowled for 57, the runs dried up for Melksham; with both Honeybone (5) and Gary Ings (1) restricted to minimal scoring opportunities.
After a complete drought of runs approaching the last few overs, the arrival of Matt Lee to the crease brought some much needed momentum. A delightful cameo of 18, including a couple of classy cut-shots for 4 as well as a surprise 6, helped Melksham reach a competitive total of 153 all out after the complete 45 overs.
The Melksham defence began in magnificent fashion with Lee as well as Andy Footner bowling a near impeccable line and length to restrict Nationwide to scraps. Although neither bowler got a wicket within the first 10 overs, Melksham were able to secure an early breakthrough via a remarkable direct hit run out from Veacock. With Lee claiming two scalps later in his spell, after 18 overs Melksham had their opponents in deep trouble on 28-3; Footner unlucky to claim any wickets for himself.
Nationwide would however get a much-needed boost past this point, with first change bowlers Honeybone and Ings struggling to find their rhythm early on. Despite conceding a few extras Honeybone did claim a fourth wicket for the side; but with the crucial wicket of opener Jack Harris still eluding Melksham, Nationwide still maintained hope of chasing down the target. A tense second half of the innings followed, but Melksham kept the momentum in their favour by never allowing any of Harris’ partners to remain at the crease for long. Veacock finally claimed the wicket of the opener, who finished on 57, along with a flurry of other wickets to see his side home to their second win of the season. The captain finished with impressive figures of 4-13 after 4.1 overs, with Chris Long also chipping in with 2-16 off 5.
Victory over Nationwide takes Melksham up to seventh in the league, a victory which will hopefully prove to be the beginning of an assault on the top half of the table.