By Dan Carpenter
Melksham 1s indifferent season continued with a 5th defeat of the season during a mid-table clash away to Ramsbury, with the team’s inability to break up a prolific 2nd wicket partnership proving to be their undoing during a high-scoring contest.
Losing the toss and forced into the field, Melksham’s afternoon got off to the best possible start when Matt Lee claimed a wicket with just the second ball of the game; a wicket which the visitors hoped would be a sign of things to come. The complete opposite proved to be true however, as Ramsbury’s 2nd wicket partnership wasted no time in recovering from their early setback. Skipper Freddie Walker led the charge with some bombastic hitting, whilst his partner Dave Smith took a more conservative approach. Frustrations grew quite quickly amongst the Melksham fielders, frustrations that were only amplified by some crucial missed opportunities to remove both batsmen.
Even as new bowlers came and went from the bowling attack, no breakthrough was forthcoming as Ramsbury’s score continued to accumulate. Eventually captain Joe Veacock took matters into his own hands, dismissing Smith for 73 in the 39th over to end a colossal 209-run partnership. Walker soon followed, finishing on a match defining 111, as suddenly wickets began to fall regularly. Veacock emerged with figures of 4-45, whilst Matt Lee ended the innings on 2-25; but with Ramsbury finishing up on 248-7, Melksham knew they had a serious chase on their hands.
A quick start was crucial for the traveling side and thankfully they got just that. Openers Daniel Carpenter and Tim Edwards wasted little time in getting the scoring going, motoring their side to 41 after just 7 overs.
Unfortunately, the momentum would not last as Carpenter was caught behind for 18, with Edwards following soon after when he was bowled for 19. The match was now at a crucial crossroads with the score at 51-2, with the in-form pair of Veacock and Russell Collins now at the crease. Both batsmen initially looked comfortable; but when Veacock was then bowled for just 8 in the 12th over, Melksham suddenly knew that any aspirations of a thrilling comeback victory were now seriously jeopardized.
Collins was now joined by Tom Bew and the two did manage to steady the ship for a short time, helping the team reach 100 runs by the 18th over. Sadly, Collins went soon after, and this triggered a major collapse which effectively put Melksham’s hopes of a victory to bed; the away side now stranded on 112-7 by the 22nd over.
The new incumbents at the crease Chris Singh and Chris Long reassessed the situation and opted to take a more moderate approach, trying to claim as many batting bonus points as possible rather than chase the unrealistic match target. They gradually succeeded in claiming these points, and Singh over time began to go on the offensive whilst Long maintained his cautious approach. Against all the odds the duo reached 191 by the 39th over, and Singh – having chalked up his first fifty of the season – decided to take the chance of snatching an incredible win, but unfortunately picked out a man in the deep. Melksham were able to reach the 200 mark but were then finished off soon after with a mere few balls of the innings left.
A gutsy batting display salvaged a large degree of pride in what was at times a difficult afternoon but defeat nevertheless keeps Melksham pinned down in a disappointing 7th in the league for the time being.