The 2nd XI got their league campaign off to freakish start, with their trip to Bathford 2s resulting in a rare tie.
The visitors restricted their opponents to 147 in the first innings, with Chris Skilton (3-25) and Brad Wilkins (3-30) emerging as the pick of the bowlers. A cautious response from Melksham saw the run-chase go right down to the wire, with a chaotic final ball leading to the run-out of captain Ian Doyle, rendering the teams all-square after a dramatic finish.
Doyle’s afternoon began with him losing the toss and put into field. However, it was his side who would emerge on top early on thanks to two early wickets coming through Skilton and Andy Footner (1-18). Unfortunately, Melksham were unable to capitalize on this early success, with Bathford’s 3rd wicket pairing of Darren Sutton and Paul Merrett taking their side from 16-2 to 92-2 inside 19 overs. Luckily a bit of good fortune was to come Melksham’s way when Merrett miscued a short ball from Brad Wilkins which was caught in the deep by his brother Luke. Wilkins then struck again later that over with a sharply taken caught-and-bowled chance, leaving the innings in the balance with the score at 95-4.
Melksham’s bowlers were able to slow the run-rate down from this point, and their efforts were eventually rewarded with further wickets. Tom Watling bowled Sutton for 48, before claiming another wicket 4 overs later to reduce Bathford 121-6. The homeside never recovered their earlier momentum after this point, with another wicket from Wilkins and 2 from the returning Skilton, as well as a run-out from Dan Carpenter, rendering Bathford all out for a seemingly below-par 147 off 39.4 overs.
The response got off to a floundering start when Carpenter was bowled for just 5. More concerning though was the lack of run-scoring opportunities being manufactured, with skipper Doyle and Tony Trotman appearing somewhat stifled out in the middle. By the end of the 20th over Melksham had only registered 39 runs, but, on the other hand, still had most of their wickets intact. After this point Trotman did start to score more frequently, before being caught on 40 in the 30th over to leave his side 69-2.
What until now had been a placid affair now escalated into an exciting finale with both runs and wickets coming far more frequently, with Doyle remaining at the crease right until the end. Steve Burns was next to the crease, and his quickfire 21 gave the visitors some much needed urgency, bringing the score to 108 off 38. His dismissal ushered in a flurry of dismissals as various batsmen came and went to try and help Doyle get over the line, but crucially runs were now finally starting to flow.
Although by the end of the penultimate over Melksham had only 2 wickets left, some selfless batting from the middle and lower orders meant that they only needed 3 to win from the final 6 balls. Unfortunately, Doyle and Andy Footner could only bring Melksham level by the final ball. Once this ball was delivered chaos ensued; Footner was unable to make clean contact with the ball, but a total failure of communication between him and Doyle meant that an opportunity to snatch a last-ditch run was not taken, leading to Doyle being ran out with the scores all level and brining a dramatic afternoon to a stunning close.
What Next: The 2nd XI will hope to go one better when they host Winsley 4ths for their first home game of the season.