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.