26th & 27th May 2018 – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Reports

Wood the Incredible Makes the Miracle Happen!

Marple 174 all out in 51.4 overs (25 points) beat Alderley Edge 164 all out in 42 overs (6 points) by ten runs.

A remarkable spell of 7 for 38 in just ten overs from Marple’s captain fantastic Paul Wood, dramatically turned this game Marple’s way after all looked lost, the visitors seemingly coasting on 119 for 1.

The wonderful weather of May 2018 continued as Marple entertained Alderley Edge in a fixture that has plenty of history over forty plus years. Marple captain, Paul Wood was probably not too concerned at being asked to bat first on a pitch that had good carry, the ball appearing to come nicely on to the bat. With Marple’s top order having failed in recent weeks, a change was made, with Jim Morgan moving up to open with Makin. Morgan, the former Yorkshire Academy and Lincolnshire wicket keeper batsman is a fine player of pace, and relishes the ball coming on to him. Here, he looked in his element, well as Alderley’s overseas paceman Kieran Elliott and first change seamer Windle bowled.

Elliot was right on the mark, but Morgan was in control, and got Foreman away to the boundary a number of times as the Aussie’s opening partner struggled with line and length. However, Marple’s top order has been notoriously fragile this season. Makin, Wood and Bennett all looked in good touch, but were unable to provide lengthy support for Morgan. When the promoted Schofield was caught, and then Andrew Hall horrendously run out, Marple were in dire straits at 78 for 5. Morgan now received some solid assistance from Peter Jackson on his Marple first eleven debut. He helped Morgan add 32, before being maybe unluckily adjudged lbw at 110 for 6. Morgan’s excellent innings of 67 came to an end when he carved Windle to Fluck at point. He had batted beautifully, and his innings was a mixture of solid defence, strong drives that hit the fieldsmen and some brutally struck boundaries. With Marple’s lower order having been blown away in short time this season, the omens were not good at 123 for 7. However, talented Marple young players, Ed Saxelby and Jack Grundy ensured that a respectable total was posted. Saxelby (19) was comfortable against the extra pace of Elliott, and also carved the tiring Windle for a couple of boundaries. 31 priceless runs came for the ninth wicket, and Jack Grundy also got in on the act as he drew confidence from Saxelby. A further 17 runs were added for the tenth wicket as Grundy, smiting a number of lusty fours, went on to a senior career best score of 24. 174 all out was a total that had Marple in the game, but looked to be maybe fifty or so short in the conditions. Elliott was accurate and sharp with 3 for 47 for Alderley, with Windle 3 for 57, and off spinner Reid 2 for 16 good in support.

So it appeared on the resumption. Calum Rowe and Alan Day are an experienced and quality opening pair for Alderley Edge. Steadily as Moroney and Grundy bowled, there was little to worry the batsmen. Wood needed wickets, and brought Greasley into the attack early on. With a strong easterly wind now blowing, there was no drift for Marple’s master craftsman, well as he bowled, and it appeared plain sailing for the visitors. The half century stand came up, but although Grundy was wayward in a short second spell from the pavilion end, he got the priceless wicket of Rowe (30), smartly taken by Greasley at second slip. Greasley had had Rowe dropped from a skier, but this was not costly, however, when Day was dropped at deepish mid off by Grundy, it seemed that Marple’s catching woes were going to prove costly once more. Wood tried part time spinner, Bennett, but he was inconsistent. Greasley was switched to the pavilion end, and captain Wood got himself loose to try and prise out a couple of wickets. Wood has not bowled in a league game for around a year due to injury, but here, operating off a short run up, he found an awkward length no other bowler in the game had managed. He is a tall (six feet five) and powerful man, and even off this short approach, was able to achieve a disconcerting bounce. Day (51) was caught behind by Morgan, and although promoted second teamer Scurrah (50) also reached a half century, the rest of the Alderley card was in binary form! From a seemingly unassailable 119 for one, a horrific collapse ensued. Ed Saxelby continued his excellent day for Marple in supporting Wood in a fine short spell. Wood was unstoppable with a phenomenal 7 for 38 as the visitors’ middle and lower order were as rabbits in the headlamps, clueless against Wood’s lift and carry. Nine wickets fell for just 45 as a final score of 164 all out saw Marple victors by just ten runs. Morgan’s fine day was topped off with three catches behind the stumps, and the safe hands of Makin at slip also pouched two comfortable victims. Saxelby had 2 for 8, bowling in a good channel, just around off stump.
So, this remarkable victory lifts Marple to eighth in the league. They are away at Cheadle next Saturday with a 12.30pm start at Kingsway.

A poor batting performance saw Marple crumble to just 103 all out in the second eleven fixture between the two clubs. Marple responded well in the field, but Alderley eventually coasted home, victors by six wickets with plenty of overs to spare.

19th & 20th May 2018 – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Reports

Deja Vu for Marple Despite Bennett Heroics!

Oulton Park 224 for 6 (55 overs) 25 points beat Marple 152 all out (43.4 overs) 3 points by 72 runs.

On a glorious mid May afternoon, Marple were once more comfortably defeated at Oulton Park’s picturesque Little Budworth ground in rural Cheshire.

This game had a similar pattern to the one the previous week at home to Didsbury, only this time the margin of the defeat was greater. Pat Roberts, Park skipper elected to bat first on winning the toss. Marple were disappointed to be in the field first, as the pitch was white, and seemed to be flat and firm. With the outfield fast and the boundaries short, a tough afternoon beckoned. However, once again, appearances can be deceptive. The batting surface was not the paradise it promised to be on initial viewing. For Marple, Moroney bowled with some good pace and keeper Morgan took a number of deliveries waist high and above. The hard hitting East got the ball to the boundary on a number of occasions, but it was generally an even contest between bat and ball, and Cheshire opening bat, Danny Leech was beaten for pace and adjudged lbw for just 9 in Moroney’s fourth over at 34 for one. Shabaz joined East, and although they added 59 runs, Marple, through the inform Greasley and Mudassar Phanchbaya, exerted a good measure of control. Indeed, East was missed three times, twice from dropped catches and once from a missed stumping by Morgan. It was the period around the drinks interval that saw Marple have their best spell of the afternoon. East was lbw to Phanchbaya for an untypical 49. Shabaz (29) followed soon afterwards to the same bowler, well caught by Schofield from a skier. When Greasley had first Jamieson, stumped for a duck, and Hyslop (15) brilliantly caught by Moroney, Oulton Park were 115 for 5. Marple were now on top, but as against Didsbury, Greasley had bowled through his 17 overs relatively early in the piece, this time with 2 for 32. Phanchaya continued his fine spell though as Roberts and Lancashire Academy youngster Gibbon played themselves in. Roberts showed good maturity in his innings, picking the right moment to attack. For the second successive week, Marple were unable to keep a lid on a destructive sixth wicket partnership. Phanchbaya finished his 17 overs with 2 for 47, a fine effort, and one that showed stamina and application. The returning opening bowlers, however, Moroney and Grundy were dealt with harshly towards the end. 106 runs came in good time, with Gibbon, in particular, finding the boundary with regularity. Makin took an excellent catch to dismiss Gibbon for 45 off Moroney, but the damage was done. 224 for 6 was a score somewhat above par on a pitch that offered some assistance to bowlers of all types. Roberts’ fine innings of 52 not out contained four fours and two sixes.

Such a target is often well within reach at this typically high scoring venue, but after two overs, Marple were 0 for 2! Both openers, Hall and Makin, were back in the hutch, one wicket apiece for Parkinson and Douglas, and 225 looked to be well over the horizon. Connor Ramsay and Mark Bennett had staged a mini recovery the previous week, but here they got Marple back into the game. Bennett was in prime form. He punished Douglas as the seamer erred in line and length, and then, when Roberts introduced his trump card Kashif, proceeded to back his judgment, launching a furious assault on the former international off spinner. Four huge sixes were deposited into the adjoining fields as Roberts persevered with Kashif in the hope of the break through. Ramsay also found his range with a number of attractive strokes. 73 excellent runs came in fifteen overs as supporters of both sides were royally entertained. Ramsay (27) may have been a trifle unlucky to be given lbw to Kashif, but with Wood digging in to support Bennett, the momentum was not lost for Marple. Bennett passed a superb half century, and such was his command that Roberts was forced totally on the defensive. Kashif was removed from the attack, but Douglas was harshly treated in a short second spell. However, first Gibbon and then Hyslop both bowled tidy spells for the home side.

After the drinks break, Roberts gave Kashif a second spell. He is a big spinner of the ball, and found plenty of assistance on this track. Bennett was not able to find his earlier mastery and was deceived and gratefully stumped by Roberts. His superb 76 contained 8 fours and 5 sixes. He added 53 with Wood. Sadly for Marple, his dismissal heralded a fairly swift demise. Wood (20) attempted to force the pace, but was well caught at point by Kashif off Hyslop. Parkinson then returned to help Kashif mop up the innings, with only Schofield, 11 not out, offering any real resistance. A final total of just 152 all out was very disappointing from a promising position of 126 for 3. Kashif, recovering from his early mauling had 5 for 41, and Parkinson a useful 3 for 38.
Once more Marple showed that they are more than capable of competing in the top division of Cheshire cricket, but they were unable to capitalise on a good position when the opposition were 115 for 5. The batting as a whole remains a worry, with seven players contributing just 4 runs between them in this game. Each league fixture has seen a Marple batsman reach a half century, but it has been the support hat has been generally lacking. The ability in the top order is certainly there, so the side will hope to turn things around starting next Saturday with a home fixture against old rivals Alderley Edge, 12.30pm start.

A dour game of cricket saw Marple battle to a draw in the second eleven fixture between the two clubs at Bowden Lane. Some innovative batting, with good running between the wickets saw the visitors post an above par 172 for 8 on a sluggish surface. Spinners Joe Cash and Andy Massey once more did a good job for Marple, but the Marple batsmen became becalmed on the resumption. What seemed, on paper, to be a strong line up, never threatened to pull off a win, and there did not appear to be a solid plan of action to chase down the target. It was left to Ed Saxelby with a doughty 20 not out, and Andy Wild 8 not out, to see Marple to just 110 for 6 from the full fifty overs.

Marple thirds were once more on the road last Sunday, this time to Nantwich. Captain for the day, Matt Barrow elected to field first on winning the toss. His bowlers, led by Marple newcomer Josh Kirk did a good job in restricting the home side to 173 for 9 in 45 overs. Kirk had a fine 4 for 40, and Daniel (DD)Davies 3 for 17 in a good all round effort in the field. When Marple replied the hero was the club’s multi talented all rounder Sam Stretton. Sam, batting at four, hit a match winning 61 not out as Marple completed a fine win against strong third eleven opposition.

Marple women’s team played their first home fixture on Sunday against Appleton (near Warrington). In superb May sunshine, and with the ground in great shape, a terrific afternoon was had by players and supporters of both sides.

12th & 13th May 2018 – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Reports

Marple Show Character in Defeat!

Didsbury 219 for 6 (55 overs) 25 points beat Marple 177 all out (52.1 overs) 4 points by 42 runs.

With the drier conditions of the middle of spring gradually having some effect on the playing surface, Didsbury captain Gregson elected to bat first on winning the toss. Marple’s Bowden Lane ground looked to be in excellent condition, and the pitch, although still on the slow side, was firm and much different from the previous week’s minefield at Bramhall.

The early overs saw an even contest between bat and ball, but Moroney’s fourth over was taken for three boundaries by Hastings, who proceeded to play an excellent short innings. He dominated the scoring in an opening partnership of 45. It was not that Moroney and Grundy bowled badly, but more a case of Hastings being full of confidence and trusting his instincts. Seven fours flowed from his bat out of the 35 he made before Greasley safely pouched a caught and bowled. Greasley now continued his tremendous early season form to keep a lid on the visitors’progress. Moroney had switched ends, but although he battled hard, both Ridley and Didsbury newcomer Kamstra managed to get the odd boundary away. They added a further 62 whilst never quite getting away. Marple now had their best spell of the match as Greasley bowled both batsmen, Kamstra for 34 and Ridley for 31. When Day (1) was also bowled by the wizard Greasley, Didsbury were 114 for four. Mark Bennett then gave Marple a real lift when he had the dangerous Anderson caught and bowled for a duck. Bennett is an improving off spinner, and is taken lightly at the batsmen’s peril. Anderson’s duck was not a totally useless one though, as he managed to see off the final two and a half overs of Greasley’s spell. Greasley finished with 4 for 32 from seventeen high class overs.

The best batting of the afternoon now proceeded to take the game away from Marple. Hughes had quietly played himself in, and he picked up the pace when Leech joined him. Moroney and Grundy suffered at the hands of the sixth wicket pair. They added 87 in just twelve overs as the boundary was found with regularity. Didsbury were pretty happy with a very handy 219 for 6 at tea. Hughes had 59 not out and Leech 32. It was a mixed afternoon in the field for Marple, with maybe Mudassar Phanchbaya under bowled, his six overs costing just 19 runs and no boundaries. Bennett’s 1 for 39 from twelve useful overs was a bonus for Marple. Wild had a fine afternoon behind the stumps, despite not picking up a victim.

On the resumption after tea, Marple’s top order once more failed to fire. This time there was no start from openers Hall and Makin, as the accurate Anderson removed them both in his second over, Marple 5 for 2. Ramsay and Bennett threatened a recovery, the latter gloriously driving Anderson twice through the covers for four. However, both fell at 31, Ramsay (10) bowled by the nagging Booth, and Bennett (15) also bowled by Gregson’s slow left arm. Marple captain Paul Wood has had a tricky start to the season with the bat, but here he battled hard to establish himself. With first Schofield, and then Wild he took Marple to 93. However, when Wild was out lbw to Gregson, the game looked to be up for Marple, with more than half the overs remaining.

Mudassar Phanchbaya now joined Wood in a determined seventh wicket stand that almost gave Marple a scent of victory. With both players watchful in defence and then playing some more expansive strokes, the score began to increase steadily. The 150 was passed and both batsmen appeared in little difficulty. However, Mudassar was brilliantly caught at mid wicket by the diving Gregson. His contribution to a stand of 71 was a fine 38, with five fours. Poor Wood was left stranded as the final three wickets were blown away in quick time. Wood’s 64 not out was notable for its application and also his determination not be dominated by the bowlers. He ruthlessly dispatched anything loose. For Didsbury, opening bowlers Anderson with 4 for 29 and Booth 3 for 44 were excellent, and used the conditions to their advantage. Gregson suffered some punishment, but ended with 3 for 72.

Marple will be disappointed by this loss, but can take heart that they showed plenty of character through Wood and Mudassar to almost deny a vocal and abrasive Didsbury side. Marple are away at fellow promoted side Oulton Park next Saturday, 12.30pm start.

The boot was on the other foot in the second team encounter between the clubs at Wilmslow Road Didsbury. The home side never got going as Ed Saxelby removed both openers in a fine opening burst for Marple. Then it was spin twins Joe Cash with a terrific 5 for 20 and Andy Massey 2 for 10, who worked their way through the rest of the card in quick time. 97 all out was a way under par effort. Marple had an early wobble and stuttered to 37 before Massey continued his fine game with 35 not out. He and Stewart Bass, 28 not out, added 64 in quick time to give Marple a good win at an often tricky venue.

A convincing batting display from the home team saw Grappenhall thirds defeat Marple thirds on Sunday . After a good start, Marple reached 80 for 2, with Matt Barrow making a fine 37. After this, only Jacob Combey with 20 offered much. 154 on a good wicket was a little disappointing. Grappenhall romped to a nine wicket win in 32 overs. Jonny Monk took his first league wicket for Marple.

Marple women’s team played their inaugural fixture at Lymm Oughtrington Park on Sunday. In glorious sunshine, and excellent afternoon was had by all.

5th & 6th May 2018 – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Reports

Wood Vindicated as Magnificent Greasley Takes Lead From Gutsy Makin!

Marple 113 all out (50.5 overs) 25 points beat Bramhall 83 all out (32.4 overs) 4 points by 30 runs.

Appearances can be deceptive. A glorious early May afternoon greeted the players at Bramhall’s picturesque Church Lane ground last Saturday. From a distance, the pitch and outfield looked to be in great shape. However, the cold and wet winter and early spring had left the ground soft. Marple captain Paul Wood elected to bat first on winning the toss, but after a few overs of the innings, spectators and the waiting batsmen and players in the pavilion soon realised that free strokeplay was well nigh impossible. Had Wood got his decision horribly wrong?

For Bramhall, wily off spinner Simon Wilkinson was given the new ball. He is one of the league’s most miserly bowlers, and with a defensive field set by Cantello, he immediately, in partnership with nagging seamer Littlewood, put Marple behind the clock. In Andrew Hall and Mark Makin, Marple have two normally free flowing opening batsmen, but here they could not pierce the field, even when the occasional loose delivery came down. It made for grim viewing, and there was a total stalemate. Wilkinson and Littlewood had the batsmen in a stranglehold. With no pace in the pitch, and an erratic bounce, Cantello soon removed all close catchers, basically saying to the batsmen, “get yourselves out!” Marple will rarely have been as glad that Hall and Makin did not give their wickets away. The scoring rate never reached two runs per over, but the fifty stand came up before Hall was adjudged lbw to first change bowler Iftikhar Naseer for a hard earned 21. Two more quick wickets, those of Schofield and Ramsay fell to Iftikhar before Wood (10) helped Makin add a further 26. Jim Morgan (12) also added 26 with Makin, and Marple were on 110 for 4 with still eight overs left and a chance of a total of around 150. It was not be. Despite suffering some heavy punishment towards the end of his spell as Makin and Morgan finally located the boundary, Iftikhar removed Makin, caught on the boundary for a truly valiant 61. Makin had suffered a knock the previous week at Neston, but here he played in totally unselfish fashion to give Marple the chance of posting a competitive score. He could, though, barely have unstrapped the pads before the players were leaving the field. Wilkinson returned to take a hat trick and a second spell of five for none! The tail was totally blown away. This was reward indeed for Wilkinson’s nagging accuracy. Iftikhar had 4 for 51, and left arm spinner Macciocchi a useful 1 for 30.

Marple were certainly quiet at the tea interval. Would Makin’s hard earned efforts be in vain? In Andrew Greasley, Marple have a classical off spinner, still with all the subtle variations at his disposal. Captain Wood immediately gave him the ball from the end so successfully used by Wilkinson. There was joy straightaway for Marple. Both openers fell for ducks in the opening over, West caught by Makin, and Wilde comprehensively bowled. Banthorpe soon followed, lbw to Greasley, and when Cantello edged a ball from Moroney onto his stumps at 8 for 4, Bramhall were in total disarray. Wicketkeeper Johnson and Iftikhar added 29 runs for the fifth wicket though, with the latter trusting his eye and power to try and get his side back into the contest. However, a brilliant throw from Ramsay ran out Johnson for 7, and Greasley soon had Iftikhar lbw for 27. Only a good looking 26 not out from Macciocchi, who could have batted higher than number nine, held up Greasley. The end was not long coming, and Greasley ended with remarkable figures of 8 for 34 from 16.4 overs and 6 maidens. At the other end, Moroney and Mudassar Phanchbaya gave nothing away in support of the amazing Greasley.

So, Marple have their first win on returning to the premier league. This was a gritty old fashioned type of game that is not seen often these days. Bramhall’s disastrous start to their innings meant that they did not threaten a victory, and so the game probably would not merit a space in Andrew Ward’s “Cricket’s Strangest Matches.” However, for the statistician anoraks, the game threw up some remarkable figures. Marple lost their last six wickets for three runs, and seven players managed only two runs between them! Bramhall had nine players who failed to reach double figures, and in the game as a whole, these sixteen batsmen made just nineteen run between them! There were nine ducks in the game, and Greasley was nought not out.
Marple have a home game next week against Didsbury, 12.30pm start at Bowden Lane. The batsmen will be hoping the current dry spell continues, and also the seamers are still having some no ball issues.

In another hard fought encounter, Marple seconds were unable to build on two excellent opportunites, and lost to Hyde seconds by five wickets at Bowden Lane on Saturday. After a fine opening stand between James Crisall (32) and Pete Jackson (40), of 42, wickets fell at regular intervals and a total of just 134 all out looked under par even on a slow pitch. James Chew had 4 for 48 for Hyde. Marple got amongst the visitors’ top order though, off spinners Andy Massey and Joe Cash picking up a couple of wickets each to leave Hyde on 55 for 4. However, a terrific father son partnership between Philip (63 not out) and Ben Balderson (17) took Hyde to 134 before Ben was caught and bowled by part time spinner Crisall. Disappointment this for George Clarke’s men, although there were some positive aspects to the performance, chief of which was Pete Jackson’s third successive score in excess of forty.

Marple thirds made the long trip to Wirral club Oxton on Sunday for the first league game of 2018. Marple rattled up an impressive 235 for 6 in their 45 overs. Jonny Arrowsmith led the way with a superb 87, and he was given great support from Sam Stretton 43 not out and Luke Greasley 31. In reply, Oxton totalled 169 for 9. Connor Bergin 3 for 41, Sam Stretton 2 for 27, Andy Gichero 2 for 37, Tom Reeve 1 for 26 and Matt Leech 1 for 11. Despite just not managing to take the final Oxton wicket, this was a fine start for the thirds, and bodes well for the season.

28th April 2018 – Neston Vs Marple (1st & 2nd Report)

Hackett Swings It For Neston!

Neston 188 all out (55 overs) 25 points beat Marple 133 all out (48 overs) 5 points by 33 runs.

Two crucial contributions from Neston’s canny all rounder Chris Hackett turned this game the home side’s way after Marple had twice put themselves into a strong position.
Marple supporters have always enjoyed the visit to Neston’s attractive Parkgate ground on the Wirral. However, after having basked in temperatures of 25 degrees the previous week, the weather gods had a nasty surprise in store. After heavy rain during the week, single figure digits and a severe wind chill greeted the players. Unsurprisingly, Paul Wood opted to field first on winning the toss.

The Neston line up looked a strong one on paper. Dylan Moroney took his first Marple wicket early on though when Mark Bennett held a good catch to remove his old adversary Neston skipper David Hurst at 19 for one. The dangerous Will Evans found a staunch partner in Dom Smith for the second wicket, and the pair took the score along to 89 before Smith became Mudassar Phanchbaya’s first wicket in an excellent spell of bowling. Mudassar removed the home side’s middle order in quick time, and with Andy Greasley on the spot also, Marple were well in the game. Greasley had the prize wicket of Evans for a high class 58 at 120 for 6, and with two new batsmen, the game was in the balance. Hackett now made the first of his match winning contributions. With Jonny Crick, he added 60 priceless runs for the seventh wicket. Hackett, a mixture of aggression and watchful defence, clubbed five fours and two sixes in his 48. 188 was a useful total in early season conditions, despite a good all round bowling effort from Marple. Mudassar was the pick with 3 for 29, Greasley had 2 for 47 from 17 testing overs, Moroney returned extremely well to mop up the tail with 4 for 39, and Ed Saxelby bowled an excellent late spell of 1 for 18 in 7 good overs. A number of dropped chances did not help Marple’s cause though, and Neston were probably reasonably content at the break.

Neston’s opening attack of Ash Davis and Chris Finegan is one that certainly demands respect. The former has skiddy pace, and Finegan has replaced his own speed with a veteran’s guile as the years have passed. In Andrew Hall, Marple have as good a player as has played premier league cricket in Cheshire. With Mark Makin getting his season underway, some high quality cricket was on view in the Arctic conditions. Hall continued on from his knock against Toft the previous week, and Makin put his first game duck behind him. Forty runs came in good time before keeper Evans caught Makin off Finegan. First change for Neston, Stewart was ineffective, and so it was second change Hackett who soon had Bennett adjudged lbw for 5 at 69 for 2. Bennett had battled hard to establish himself, and may have been a tad unlucky with the decision. However, this proved to be the start of a horror period for the visitors as Hackett blew away the middle order. In no time Marple were 72 for 4, with Wood and Morgan departing for ducks. Mike Schofield made a useful contribution of 16, but fell to Hurst who contributed a telling spell of 3 for 13. The game was up for Marple when Hall was run out for another fine half century after a mix up with Mudassar, and although the latter made a valiant 23 not out to go with his wickets, the tail could not keep him company. Hackett would have been delighted with his decisive 4 for 22 from 10 overs, with the miserly Finegan battling through 17 overs and 2 for 28. 133 all out was a disappointment after such a promising beginning.

A full strength Didsbury struggled to beat a weakened Marple at Bowden Lane in the Cheshire Cup first round on Sunday. Marple made only 77 in testing batting conditions, with Hall making the game’s top score of just 17! With Moroney once more showing his mettle, wickets fell regulary in the Didsbury response. Victory was eventually achieved when visiting skipper Gregson smote the winning boundary at 81 for 7. Gregson had taken 3 for 12 earlier in nine overs of nagging slow left arm spin. Moroney, who will surely relish some firmer and dryer conditions as the season unfolds, had a fine 4 for 37. Marple’s young off spinner Connor Bergin weighed in with 2 for 12, both his victims being top order batsmen.

Despite a tricky start to the season, particularly with the top order batting and also the catching, Marple are not a million miles away from a win, and there is plenty of character and ability within the side to turn things around quickly. Next week sees another away game, this time at old local rivals Bramhall, 12.30pm start Saturday 5th May.

There were also testing batting conditions for the second eleven fixture between Marple and Neston on Saturday. Stuart Jackson made another fine contribution with 42 as Marple toiled to 119 all out. This proved to be a challenge for the visitors though, who eventually won by four wickets, despite a five wicket haul from Marple’s evergreen Matthew Shelton who is enjoying some vintage form.

In the early season third eleven round robin T20 competition, Marple were defeated by 29 runs at Heaton Mersey. Mersey totalled a useful 142 for four, and Marple replied with 113 all out, Jonny Arrowsmith 37 and Luke Greasley 33. Marple gave senior debuts to under fifteens Danny Cox, 1 for 21, and Jonny Monk who batted with promise.

19th September 2018 – Marple Vs Toft

Tough Return to Top Flight For Marple!

Marple 144 all out (49.4 overs) 2 points lost to Toft 147 for 2 (19.4 overs) 25 points by eight wickets.

 

On a stunningly beautiful late April afternoon, Marple followed their relatively recent habit of losing the first game of the season. This time, on returning to the Cheshire County League Premier Division, they came up against a very good and disciplined young Toft side. Whilst the scorecard does not totally convey what happened in the game, Marple ultimately suffered a comprehensive defeat against a side that threatened to win this division in 2017, before a late loss of form cost them a chance of the title.

The Marple ground looked superb after the belated spring finally managed to shake off the shackles of a harsh winter. Paul Wood, Marple skipper, elected to bat first on winning the toss, believing that his main strength lay in his top order. However, the Toft opening attack of Tom Forster, in particular, and James Scott was right on target from ball one. Mark Makin edged his second ball to keeper Sehmi for a duck, and Mark Bennett was comprehensively bowled for one by Scott at 6 for 2. Wood joined Andrew Hall, and they proceeded to stage a mini recovery, with Hall doing the bulk of the scoring. Hall oozed class, and was obviously relishing being back in top flight cricket. He stroked some sumptuous boundaries when the odd rare half volley came down, and was watchful in defence. He had to play carefully against Forster in particular who bowled an excellent spell, always probing around off stump just short of driving length. Wood was just looking secure when an absolute beauty saw the Marple captain edge behind to Sehmi again. At 40 for 3, Marple were once more in a crisis. However, Jim Morgan looked rock solid in support of Hall. With the ball gradually losing its hardness, the batsmen took advantage of more frequent scoring opportunities. The bowling was never less than testing though, as Jackson replaced Scott and once more did not need any time before finding an awkward length. The pitch, although on the slow side, was firm and both batsmen were able to find the boundary during an excellent stand of 60 for the fourth wicket. After 28 overs, and the drinks interval, Marple had turned around a sticky start to be 100 for 3. Hall had reached a cultured 69 and Morgan was prospering on 24. The excellent Forster had been replaced by Lancashire’s Rob Jones with his leg spin, but neither player had allowed him to settle initially.

The old adage “drinks brings a wicket” was once more proven to be true. Sadly for Marple, there was a double whammy. First, Hall dragged a ball from Jackson onto his stumps, and then Morgan was deceived by Jones at the same score of 105. Toft were now firmly in charge. Mike Schofield, on his Marple debut, looked solid though in the face of extremely accurate bowling, and he was ably supported by Ed Saxelby who looked determined to get himself in. The runs dried up, but the sixth wicket pair battled away, both reaching double figures before Schofield misread Jones in trying to sweep and was lbw. Mudassar Phanchbaya also reached double figures, but Marple could only grind out a final total of 144 in the fiftieth over. Jones had 3 for 23 and Forster 2 for 36. Toft’s new skipper, slow left armer Jimmy Lomas cleaned up the tail with 3 for 4. Maybe this will be his role in 2018, after often bowling in excess of 25 overs per game in previous seasons!

With 60 overs to reach the target, this game was not likely to be a draw. However, after Marple’s attack of Dylan Moroney and Jack Grundy had at first been a little wayward, Grundy removed both openers to leave the visitors on 34 for 2. Drummond was bowled, and Forster was brilliantly caught at slip by Wood. Marple then had a chance to really get back into the game. Rob Jones, fresh from scores of 90 and 100 during the week for Lancashire seconds, was surprised by the pace of Moroney. Firstly, he edged past first slip for four, and then was dropped by Wood at second slip, the ball flying high just above his head. Wood’s disappointment was evident as he knew he had missed a key chance. Jones was relatively subdued after this being once again dropped, but from a no ball! He did not actually receive much of the strike at this time. However, Sehmi settled into his innings immediately. The Kent second eleven and Loughborough wicket keeper batsman was untroubled, and he brutally despatched any wayward bowling to the fence. Boundaries flowed from his rapier like blade as all the bowlers suffered. From Marple’s point of view, the scoreboard rattled along at an alarming rate, and although Sehmi was put down in the deep off a sharp chance, the victory target was reached in quick time. Sehmi finished 67 not out, and Jones, flowing more towards the end, 37 not out.

So, a heavy defeat for Marple. However, the story was certainly not all doom and gloom. Andrew Hall was in prime form, and several other players got valuable time in the middle. On the bowling side, Jack Grundy showed that he can get good players out, and Dylan Moroney showed a promising turn of pace on an early season sluggish pitch. Both opening bowlers will want to curb the number of no balls in practise this week though. A combined total of thirteen was far too high.

Marple now have two away games, with the first of these at Neston’s attractive Parkgate ground on the Wirral next Saturday with a 12.30pm start.

There was better news for Marple seconds with a terrific win at Toft, the defending champions. Toft got away to a fast start, but George Clarke and Matthew Shelton stuck to their guns. After Craig and Gates had added 39, the middle order fell away. Marple welcomed back Joe Cash, and he relished his return, picking up 4 for 8 from nine overs of off spin. Toft were sent packing for just 119, Clarke 3 for 43 and Shelton 2 for 53.

James Crisall and newcomer Peter Jackson added an excellent 91 for Marple’s first wicket, and the result was never in doubt. Joe Stanley picked up three quick wickets, but Joe Cash added to his fine day with a quickfire 14 not out, including a huge six. Crisall made 51, and Jackson an impressive 43 not out on debut.

On Sunday, Marple thirds lost by six wickets in a tight T20 encounter against Stockport.  Another newcomer, Connor Ramsay top scored with 39, as Marple battled to 129 for 9, Sam Stretton 23 not out. Stockport reached the target with one over to go. This was a excellent game of cricket between two good quality third teams.