The 1st XI were unable to get their league campaign off to a winning start, losing at home by 18-runs to a strong Corsham 3rd XI.
The afternoon got off to a roaring start for the hosts, with an early blitz from Rich Hemmings (3-19) helping to reduce the visitors to 22-4 off 9 overs. Corsham’s 5th wicket partnership of Jonathan Parker and Callum Sandell got their side back into the match with a 119-run stand; but in the end Melksham still bowled their opponents out for a seemingly below par score of 166.
Melksham’s response was shaky to begin with but, thanks largely to the efforts of Russ Collins and Joe Veacock, still looked well placed to win the game with the score at 139-5 with 9 overs remaining. Everything would quickly unravel however when Corsham smashed their way through the Melksham lower order, who lost their final 5 wickets for just 9 runs, to snatch victory on the opening day of the season.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first, but it was Melksham who came out on top in the early exchanges thanks to the efforts of Hemmings and Matt Lee. The former delivered a hammer blow for Corsham mid-way into his spell, taking 3 wickets inside 2 overs. Lee then joined the party with a wicket of his own, leaving the visitors 4 down with very few runs to show for their efforts.
Melksham’s early success was not to last though. Corsham’s middle order pairing of Parker and Sandell rebuilt their side’s innings over the subsequent over, with first change bowlers Chris Singh and debutant Lewie Simmons were frustrated in their attempts to find a breakthrough, both finishing their spells wicketless. In the end it would be Mark Mullis who claimed the wicket needed to break the partnership, dismissing Parker for 52, who departed the middle leaving his side in a considerably stronger position of 141-5.
The momentum then switched back to Melksham’s favour, who quickly disposed of Corsham’s lower order. Mullis claimed another wicket thanks to a catch from Joe Veacock, finishing with figures of 2-25, whilst a further 2 wickets as well as a run-out came courtesy of skipper Adam Mitchell. Sandell survived most of his lower-order partners but would go on to be the last fall, dismissed by the returning Lee (who finished 2-14 off 6.3) to leave Corsham 166 all out.
What looked to be a favourable run-chase was complicated by the cheap dismissals early on of Mitchell (9) and Chay Forester (10), which left Melksham 31-2 off 12. Luckily Russ Collins provided some respite for his side, hitting a solid 30 on his return to the side after almost a year out due to injury. However, he was unable to kick on after his good start with his dismissal, as well as that of Matt Hunt for a golden duck, leaving the score at 68-4.
Melksham still had grounds for optimism whilst Joe Veacock was still at the crease though. He rotated the strike well, serving as a much-needed anchor for his side. At the other end both Simon Turner and Chris Singh both got off to starts, scoring 18 and 27 respectively, but neither were able to stay with Veacock long enough to build a truly decisive partnership. Nonetheless, at the time of Singh’s departure Melksham had reached a of score 139-5, a position from which a victory seemed a strong possibility.
This, alas, would prove not to be the case. Veacock was ran-out for 44 soon after, and with his dismissal the innings imploded dramatically. Corsham blew away Melksham’s lower order to suddenly leave Melksham hanging on by a thread 145-9 off 42, with the final blow coming when Matt Lee was ran-out in the final over; condemning his side to a bitter 18-run defeat to get the season off to a disappointing start.
What next: A long trip to Wanborough awaits as Melksham look to immediately bounce back from their opening day defeat.