2nd XI, Match Reports, News

2ND XI MATCH REPORT: Remarkable last grasp wickets help Melksham snatch victory from jaws of defeat

The 2nd XI pulled off an incredible last-minute comeback in their home clash with Trowbridge 3s, taking 3 wickets in 4 balls to claim victory by the slender margin of just 2 runs.

Having battled their way to a score of 178-8 earlier in the day, the hosts had the better of the opening stages of the 2nd innings, courtesy of a fiery spell from Chris Long. However, the Trowbridge middle-order fought back well, putting them in the position of needing just 3 to win from 9 overs with 3 wickets still in hand. Just as it looked like the visitors would comfortably get over the line, wickets from Ross Holbrook and John Wiltshire suddenly left the contest balanced on a knife edge. Andy Footner then produced a sharp catch from Wiltshire’s bowling to claim the final wicket to leave Trowbridge stunned and Melksham jubilant.

The day got off to a stable, albeit slightly slow, start thanks to openers Holbrook and Daniel Carpenter. The pair ably saw off Trowbridge’s opening bowlers, scoring a solid 32 runs between them in the opening 10 overs. A frustrating few overs would follow though, with Holbrook and Carpenter adding just another 12 runs over the following 7 overs. In the end the frustration would tell; having only scored 64 runs from 22 overs, both batsmen got themselves out trying to play more aggressive shots, with Carpenter caught on 27, whilst Holbrook was stumped for 24.

From this point runs started to come at a slightly faster rate, but wickets would now become a regular feature of the innings. Next to fall was Matt Hunt, who could only muster a disappointing score of 6. After him went James Bailey, who on his first appearance of the season notched a respectable cameo of 14. Fortunately for Melksham John Wiltshire was still at the crease, and thanks to his efforts Melksham had reached a score of 126-4 with 11 overs remaining. Sadly, in the following over he was bowled for 27, a major blow to the host’s hopes of kicking on during the closing stages of the innings.

Skipper Ian Doyle kept the scoreboard ticking over during the next few overs. In the end though he was bowled for 16, like many of the batsmen before him unable to kick on after a solid start. With Steve Burns (1) also dismissed it looked as if the tail end would be at Trowbridge’s mercy during the final few overs. However, some wayward bowling, as well as solid efforts from Tom Watling (8*) and Chris Long (6*) gave Melksham some much needed late runs, helping the hosts finish with a respectable total of 178-7 off their 45 overs.

Trowbridge started their reply in an aggressive manner. And whilst this did give them some welcome early runs, ultimately it would play to the advantage of a pumped-up Chris Long. Having claimed Melksham’s first wicket in his 3rd over, Long smashed his way through the top-order by striking in three consecutive overs thereafter, leaving Trowbridge reeling on 44-4 and helping him finish with impressive figures of 4-33. The visitors continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but with a further wicket from Tom Watling and plenty of opportunities in the field, the game looked as if it was Melksham’s to lose.   

This proved not to be the case. Trowbridge youngsters Jacob Hamilton and Olli Brown formed a formidable 6th wicket pairing to shift the momentum back in their side’s favour. By the 29th over they had steered Trowbridge to a total of 136, with the Melksham fielders now becoming visibly frustrated that the game was now beginning to slip from their grasp. Steve Burns was on hand to restore some hope with 2 quick wickets in the 30th over, but with Trowbridge now needing only 41 runs from 15 overs it looked as if Melksham had blown their chance to win the game.

Brown remained at the crease and, along with number nine batsman Alex Tanner, continued to guide Trowbridge to what now looked like an inevitable victory. Melksham’s bowler did slow the run-rate down slightly over the following overs, but with so much time remaining in the innings this was not enough; only wickets would give Melksham any chance of snatching a win. With Trowbridge now requiring just 10 runs to win, skipper Doyle then made a left-field bowling change by throwing the ball to Ross Holbrook. Although he conceded 7 runs in his first 5 balls, Holbrook was able to take the massive wicket of Brown thanks to a stumping from Rich Bryant, suddenly giving Melksham a faint glimmer of hope.

It would be John Wiltshire who would bowl the decisive over with Alex Tanner on strike. Second ball of the over a tame shot from Tanner was spilled towards Wiltshire, who produced a stunning grab to dismiss the tailender and suddenly leave Melksham one wicket away from pulling off a famous victory. Those hopes were realised next ball when Trowbridge’s last batter, Graham Booth, spurned the ball towards Footner at backwards square-leg, who in turn produced an equally impressive grab to complete a shock turn-around for his side to send the Melksham fielders into delirium, as well as making it 3 wins in 3 to cap off an impressive start to the season for both the 2nd team and the club in general.  


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