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.