The 1st XI’s opening game of their league campaign saw them narrowly miss out on a brilliant comeback victory, losing by just 5-runs in a high scoring thriller away to Hinton Charterhouse 2s.
After the hosts won the toss elected to bat first, Hinton’s opening batman went straight on the offensive, racing to 24 runs off just 3 overs. This aggressive approach soon backfired though, with Melksham’s opening duo of Liam Merrett and Matt Lee both making breakthroughs to wrestle back the early initiative.
The Hinton batsmen continued to play some aggressive shots, but this only played into the hands of Lee. The tricky Melksham opener embarked on wicket taking spree, taking 4 wickets in the space of 4 overs. Although runs had continued to flow in the meantime, Hinton were now 69-6 of 15 overs with the visitors firmly in the ascendancy.
Despite the flurry of wickets, Melksham were unable to dislodge the host’s main batsman, Paul Clarke. Hinton’s number 3 remained a calming influence at the crease, helping to bring his side back from the brink. Melksham’s bowlers were unable to find a way to dislodge him, which would in time prove to be their undoing. Clarke went onto make a classy century, putting on a 120-run 8th wicket partnership with Hinton skipper Tom Baker; eventually being dismissed by Chris Singh for exactly 100. At the close of the innings Hinton had finished with a commanding total of 236-8, with Melksham wondering what could have been have squandered such a fine start.
Melksham’s reply stuttered to begin with. Although once again runs were easy to come by early in the innings, the core of Melksham’s ostensibly strong batting line-up failed to get going; Daniel Carpenter (5), Tom Wallis (5), Matt Hunt (8), Russ Collins (12), and Ross Holbrook (2) were all dismissed for disappointingly low totals. The one exception was debutant Chay Forester, who excelled at the crease as he cruised his way to a maiden fifty for the club. Unfortunately, he was bowled straight after reaching the fifty milestones, leaving Melksham seemingly dead and buried on 102-6 after 24 overs.
Melksham’s skipper Joe Veacock was on hand to quickly restore hope, scoring 20 runs of a single over to remind Hinton they were still in a contest. He was soon dismissed for 40 though and, with the wickets of Chris Singh (3) and Matt Lee (2) falling either side of the captains’, Melksham did indeed look out of the game with the score on 152-9 of 33 overs.
The final wicket partnership of Mark Mullis and Liam Merrett initially appeared content to merely frustrate Hinton’s efforts to take the final wicket. Both tailenders looked solid at the crease, and when Mullis embarked on a late flurry, suddenly his side found themselves in with a sniff of a chance. Mullis kept going, striking boundary after boundary in the final overs to leave the Hinton fielders sweating over what not long before had been a secured victory. Come the final over 16 runs were required to snatch what would have been a famous victory. The final wicket paring gave it their best, but in the end fell 5 runs short to ensure it would be Hinton who got their season of to a winning start.
Words By Daniel Carpenter