The 2nd XI endured another frustrating afternoon, succumbing to a 21-run defeat at home to Bradford-on-Avon 2s despite some late batting heroics from skipper Chris Long.
Melksham’s captain opted to field first after winning the toss and was immediately vindicated when Freddie Honeybone struck with just the second ball of the match. Bradford were undaunted by this early setback though and opted to go on the offensive. By the ninth over they had racked up an impressive 55 runs but were pegged back once again when Honeybone picked up his second of the afternoon.
James Pike, Bradford’s main man, continued to dominate at the crease; scoring runs against all the bowlers he came up against. Melksham were more successful against the batsmen at the other end though, with Long and Tony Trotman picking up the wickets their team needed to stay in the game.
Pike himself eventually fell to Long for an impressive 68, leaving his side 96-6 off 19 overs. Long (3-35) and Trottman (3-39) immediately followed up this breakthrough with a further wicket each, putting their side firmly in control with the score on 105-8.
Unfortunately, Melksham were unable to kill off their opponents there and then, with Bradford’s Dean Bird able to score some crucial late runs for his side. He guided the visitors to a score of 141, before running out of partners thanks to late wickets from Honeybone (3-16) and Steve Burns (1-12).
The host’s reply got off to a shaky start when opener Ian Doyle was bowled for a golden duck. Daniel Carpenter and Matt Hunt were on hand to ensure there was no more immediate damage, with the pair guiding Melksham to a score of 39-1. Hunt was the batsman taking most of the responsibility for the scoring, but he was suddenly then bowled for 17; a dismissal that spelled trouble for Melksham. Trotman (1), Carpenter (9) and Honeybone (0) were all removed by the tricky Dean Bird, and with the score on 47-5 Melksham were now in big trouble.
Only James Bailey was able to provide some relief for Melksham, but his eventual dismissal for 14, as well as that of Sean Hooper for a duck, appeared to have condemned Melksham to another heavy defeat. Thankfully, tailenders Long and Burns stepped up to ensure there was life in the contest yet. The pair got their side up to a score of 98 before Burns was caught in the deep, ending a brave innings of 15.
With just 2 wickets left in hand, it appeared that Long would need to do most of the work if his side were to snatch a famous comeback win, and the captain gave it his best shot. He reached a score of 42 not out, but unfortunately his fellow tail enders were unable to hold on with him, meaning Melksham finished 21 runs shy of their target.