Final-match defeat failed to stop party

TOP TEAM: Division Four champions Long Melford still had time to celebrate despite their defeat
TOP TEAM: Division Four champions Long Melford still had time to celebrate despite their defeat



Long Melford 176-8 were beaten by Exning II 179-0 by 10 wickets

THE league champions were found wanting in their last home match of the season.

The wheels of the celebrating bandwagon completely came off, and not even triple breakdown cover of home start, roadside and relay would have helped.

The start of the match was delayed by a heavy downpour and some persistent showers for about an hour. It was decided by the skippers that the match would be reduced to 25 overs per innings.

Melford batted first and got off to good start through the regular opening pairing of Hugh Walters and Nick Wright.

Both batsmen found early boundaries and pushed the score on at a good rate. Walters fell for 23 when the score was on 52 and was replaced by the Twenty20 specialist Stuart Whitehart.

Unfortunately, fate was not on his side on this day as he was bowled by Lawson for a duck.

In came the skipper, Gareth Boon, and he adopted the no-nonsense style of batting, hitting 41 which included four fours and three sixes.

At the other end Wright went on to pass the 50 mark, finally being dismissed for 69, which included 11 boundaries. His innings lasted 47 balls in 55 minutes.

After the fall of the wickets of Boon and Wright, the only other batsman who made any telling contribution was the evergreen Bill Byford with 27.

Matt Holt had been run out for three and Steve Martin and James French both went for first ball ducks.

The final score of 176 was below par and perhaps the home side had already got one eye on the after-match victory celebrations.

With nothing to lose, but the match the Exning opening pair of Woods and S Readman set about the Long Melford bowlers with gusto.

Whitehart took the most punishment, going for 49 from his four overs but also conceding 11 extras. Hall also went for three sixes from his first over but then bowled two maidens.

John Cole was the pick of the bowling by only giving away 24 runs from his eight overs.

The bowling attack lacked the direction and penetration that it has shown throughout the season and that had helped to secure the league title.

Woods reached his half-century and then powered on towards his ton, and Readman picked up the pace with his own 50.

The afternoon was totally Exning’s, the Melford bowlers could not make a breakthrough, and Woods completed his century, a great way for a batsman to finish the season.

The winning runs and the most comprehensive victory came in the 24th over as the away side completed a 10-wicket win.

However, this did not affect the celebrations in the clubhouse afterwards. There was good attendance of the first and second team players and also great club legends in the form of Phil Cox and Dave Oakes.

Success has been a long time in coming to Long Melford Cricket Club so the players made the most of the rest of the evening, night and morning, some not returning home until 4am!