The 2nd XI lost the club’s final pre-season fixture by almost the narrowest of margins, losing by 3-runs at home against Sutton Benger despite late heroics from Ross Holbrook.
The visitors posted a respectable score of 166 all out in the 1st innings, with several decent performances from the Melksham bowlers; most notably Tom Watling (2-35) and Steve Burns (1-27). The host’s run chase fell agonisingly short, despite the best efforts of Holbrook (54) and captain Ian Doyle (30).
The 2s’ new skipper elected to field first after winning the toss, a call that was quickly vindicated when Andy Footner claimed the 1st wicket in the afternoon in just the 5th over. Having restricted their opponents to just 38 runs inside 10 overs, Melksham then put themselves firmly in charge with 2 more wickets, courtesy of Watling and Burns, to leave the score at 41-3 off 12.
The momentum then switched in favour of Sutton Benger over the next few overs, who reached a healthy score of 87 by the 20th over before Tim Cundick popped up with Melksham’s 4th wicket. The rest of the innings ebbed and flowed nicely between the two sides, with Sutton Benger able to sustain a decent run-rate whilst Melksham regularly claimed wickets. Come the end Brad Wilkins, Luke Wilkins and Finn Evans had all claimed a wicket-a-piece, with 2 runouts also coming via Burns and Cundick.
Melksham’s response got off to the worst possible start, with Tom Watling bowled for a duck just 5 balls in. His opening partner Daniel Carpenter was joined by Tony Trotman, both of whom got off to good starts but failed to build on them. First Trotman was bowled for 16, then Carpenter was caught-and-bowled for 17, leaving Melksham floundering on 52-3 off 17.
A quick-fire 16 from Brad Wilkins gave Melksham some much needed momentum, but with his dismissal and that Luke Wilkins (0) leaving the hosts on 74-5, the game appeared to be slipping. The 6th wicket pairing of Ross Holbrook and Ian Doyle were fortunately on hand to shift the game back in Melksham’s favour, building a steady partnership during second half of the innings to bring the required run-rate down to a-run-a-ball during the final few overs.
Holbrook in the process brought up his first fifty for the club, and as the game reached its climax him and his captain looked good the get their side over the line. Sadly, with Melksham needing 6 runs off the final over, Holbrook was bowled with four balls remaining. Doyle and incoming batsman Steve Burns were, despite their best efforts, unable to get the crucial final runs. Doyle was ran-out during the final ball of the innings in a last-ditch attempt to win the match, bringing to an end what was an enjoyable pre-season friendly for both sides.
What Next? The 2s Kick of their Division 8 campaign with a trip to face Bathford 2s.