By Dan Carpenter
Melksham’s difficult campaign took yet another turn for the worse, losing away to fellow Division 4 strugglers Corsham 3s in a game that could have huge ramifications come the end of the season.
Winning the toss and batting first, the visitors got off to a lethargic start thanks to the tight bowling of the young Corsham opening bowlers. This put pressure on the Melksham opening duo of Roy Veacock and Daniel Carpenter to try and increase the run-rate, and eventually this pressure told when Veacock was removed for 10 in the 11th over. Runs continued to be hard to come by; and with Carpenter being dismissed for 17 in the 18th over to leave his side 39-2, Melksham desperately needed one of the middle order batsman to step and inject some energy into the innings.
Unfortunately skipper Joe Veacock was unable to be that man. He was caught for a mere 4 runs just 2 overs later, leaving Melksham in big trouble. Gareth Evans now came to the crease, who Melksham hoped would be the catalyst that they were in dire need of. He did manage to somewhat increase the run-rate, but in time he was sent back to the pavilion having been unable to capitalize on his good start of 21. It was a similar story for Jack Footner, who made the same score as Evans before he too was dismissed. At this point the score stood at an unsatisfactory 100-6 off 36 overs, and the tail enders struggled to get their side out of the rut they found themselves in. Come the end of the innings the traveling side had only mustered 120 runs for the loss of 9 wickets, a score they knew that they would only defend if they produced a sensational performance in the field.
As the 2nd innings commenced, Melksham received a much-needed boost when opening bowlers Gary Ings and Liam Merrett produced their best in their first few overs. Like their Corsham counterparts they successfully created some pressure, and soon it told when Ings finally made the breakthrough in the 11th over. He would collect another scalp a few overs later – going on to finish with figures of 2-21 off 9 – to leave Corsham 42-2 after 18 overs, with Melksham perhaps sensing that they still had a chance of pulling off an extraordinary comeback win.
The next few overs passed by uneventfully; with Corsham adding few runs to their total but crucially not losing any more wickets. They creeped their way towards a total of 81 off 26 overs, before Joe Veacock plundered two wickets in the following over to keep his side in the contest. Their hopes snatching a crucial win where then suddenly snuffed out though by Corsham batman Ian Sandell, who embarked on an explosive blitz of the Melksham bowling – whilst also being aided by some dropped catches – to in the space of 4 overs see his side home to a key win their own battle to avoid the drop.
Despite defeat against the bottom placed side, Melksham still find themselves in 8th place; just outside the relegation zone. Nevertheless, a win against Ramsbury in next week’s fixture will be absolutely crucial if Melksham have serious aspirations of securing their Division 4 status for next season.