By Dan Carpenter
Melksham 1’s survival hopes took yet another hit during the penultimate fixture of the season, being edged out by 4 wickets against mid-table Ramsbury.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Melksham received a massive boost with the return of Tom Wallis to the top of the order. The opener immediately made an impact by spearheading a solid start for his side, with the home-team reaching 40 inside the first 12 overs. Wallis’ opening partner Dan Carpenter was then caught and bowled soon after for 12, but the former continued to set the tempo for his side. Unfortunately, new batsman Russell Collins was unable to kick on after a promising start – having been bowled out for 9 – before Wallis’ innings was finally dismissed after having made a healthy 41; with Melksham now finding themselves at a crossroads on 69-3.
Sadly for Melksham, skipper Joe Veacock’s recent rotten luck continued when he fell victim to a brilliant reflex catch to send him back to the pavilion for a mere 4 runs; handing Ramsbury the initiative with the score now standing at 74-4, leaving the middle order pairing of Matt Hunt and Jack Footner the task of getting the innings back up-and-running. Gradually, the duo steered their side back into a more favourable position: both batsman quickly reached the twenties before Ramsbury once again stalled the innings by removing Hunt for 21. Footner continued to be positive, displaying some impressive hitting on his way to making 44, whilst Chris Long (24) and Liam Merrett (10) also made valuable contributions late in the innings. In the end, Melksham finished on a total of 185-8; a total which left the tie well balanced at the halfway point.
In their bid to defend the total and get a crucial win, Melksham could not have got off to a better start. Opening bowlers Gary Ings and Andy Footner each claimed a wicket inside the first 4 overs to leave Ramsbury already 2 wickets down with just 2 runs on the board. The visitor’s star-man and captain Freddie Walker gave Melksham little chance to capitalise on their early success though. He quickly went on the attack – regularly finding the boundary – to put his side back on course.Footner claimed his second wicket in the 12th over, but crucially Walker was still at large and relentlessly hammering his way towards the target.
Not until the 20th over would Joe Veacock get another wicket for his side, but at this point Melksham knew it was crucial to get Walker out soon if they were to have any chance of winning. With the score at 135-4 during the 30th over, the hosts finally got the breakthrough when Jack Footner caught Walker off the bowling of Liam Merrett to give Melksham a route back into the game; the batman finishing with a score of 82. The same combination then claimed another wicket two overs later, setting up what looked to be a tight finish.
The momentum that had been gained unfortunately would not translate into the further wickets that Melksham needed. Ramsbury’s 7th wicket partnership held their nerve during the final third of the innings, steering their side to what was on balance a well-deserved win in what has been a solid season for them. Same cannot be said of Melksham though, who face a difficult trip away to Royal Wootton Bassett 2s in next round of fixtures next week.
Although other results in the league did end favourably during the weekend, the team will need to pull of an unlikely victory if they are to be absolutely certain of securing their Division 4 status for next season.