By Dan Carpenter
Melksham CC continued their great start to the season with a well-earned 82-run win over Corsham 3s, with the batters doing well to negotiate what was at times a difficult 1st innings, before the bowlers produced yet another frugal display to see the side home.
Winning the toss and opting to bat, the first over of the contest almost ended in calamity for Melksham when openers Matthew Hunt and Daniel Carpenter were involved in a chaotic mix-up which saw the latter narrowly survive two run-out attempts in the same ball. This incident would prove to be an anomaly in what was otherwise a very uneventful first 10 overs. Both batsmen were content to simply block out the opening bowlers, hoping that the searing heat would take its toll on their opponents first. The run-rate did begin to pick up by the end of the early stages of the innings, and by the 15th over Melksham were on a solid – albeit not spectacular – 43 for no loss.
The game began to change dramatically after the early drinks break however, with Melksham suffering a top-order collapse to hand the initiative to Corsham. First to go were openers Hunt (11) and Carpenter (24), dismissed in successive overs after being caught. Things quickly got even worse when Number 3 batsman Ross Holbrook (2) suffered the same fate just balls later. When Russell Collins was also removed in the same manner for 6, Melksham found themselves in the extremely dangerous position of 74-4.
It was up to Joe Veacock to play a captain’s innings to turn the tide back in his side’s favour. Ably assisted by Freddie Honeybone, Veacock happily bided his time in the middle, gradually accumulating enough runs to steer Melksham away from trouble and whilst keeping wickets in hand heading into the last 10 overs. Honeybone would go on to be caught-behind on 11 to leave the score on 101-5 after 34 overs, with Sean Hooper trapped LBW for a duck soon after; but after what had been a tricky middle-period of the innings for the home side the runs finally started to flow more freely. Veacock finally reached a hard-fought fifty, in the end departing for 57, whilst a late blast from Chris Singh (28*) as well as contributions from Mark Mullis (12) and Matt Lee (9*) saw Melksham home to a solid score of 184-9; a good effort from the hosts after what was an excellent performance from Corsham both with the ball and In the field.
Despite having a healthy target to defend, the bowlers were nevertheless determined to keep things tight in the early stages of Corsham’s reply. The impressive opening duo of Matt Lee and Liam Merrett duly delivered, with Lee producing an especially relentless opening burst to take 2 wickets, remarkably conceding just 1 run in his 6 over spell: appearing to be practically unplayable. Corsham were subsequently left floundering 15-2 after 11 overs, and their afternoon got no better when Chris Singh was then introduced into the attack and proceeded to eviscerate the rest of the top order with 3 wickets in his first 4 overs. Freddie Honeybone also produced a decent display with the ball and was unlucky to finish his 6 over spell wicketless, having gone for 19 runs. Come the 20th over of the innings, Corsham were all but down-and-out on 43-5.
The second half of the innings proved to be something of a dour affair, with Corsham mostly happy to just see off the Melksham bowlers to frustrate their efforts to claim all 10 wickets. Mark Mullis ensured his side was still in the hunt for wickets with a spell of 3-23 off 9, whilst Ross Holbrook also made an important contribution in the field with two catches. With the overs beginning to fizzle away, Liam Merrett and Matt Lee was brought back into the attack in an attempt to finish the job off. Merrett was able to claim one tail-end wicket, but in the end both he and Lee, as well as Veacock were unable to take the final wicket; with Melksham once again having the settle for only the 9 dismissals despite restricting their opposition to a low total for a second week running. Despite this, Melksham can still look upon the start of their league campaign with great satisfaction and will hope to continue to good work next week with the visit of Chippenham 3s.
It was unfortunately different story for the 2s, who lost their local derby against Lacock 2s in what was a low scoring thriller. The side were unable to exorcise the batting demons of the previous weekend, falling for a meagre 81 all out off 26.3 overs in the 1st innings. They did continue their fine form with the ball though; Chris Long (3-22 off 9) and Tom Watling (4-36 off 8) leading the charge to make sure the run-chase was not formality for Lacock. In the end the home-side saw themselves home with just 2 wickets to spare. The 2s will hope to finally get off the mark for the season with a trip to Spye Park 2s next weekend.