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Long Melford skipper hails French as first win comes again leaders Walsham

Jason Wade hailed the return to form of bowler James French as key to his Long Melford side recording their first win of the 2018 season in the most unlikely of fixtures.

Newly-promoted Walsham-le-Willows turned up at Meetingfields on Saturday riding the crest of a wave, sitting atop Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division Three having won all five of their completed matches. Melford, meanwhile, were wondering where their first victory would come from, propping up the table after three defeats from three.

Long Melford v Walsham - Jason Wade bats for Long Melford.Pic - Richard Marsham. (2358465)
Long Melford v Walsham - Jason Wade bats for Long Melford.Pic - Richard Marsham. (2358465)

But spurred on by French’s 5-47 in a lethal spell with the ball, after posting 159 in their innings, Wade’s side turned the form book on its head to record a 61-run win.

“That was the James French of last season; he was back on it again and it gives everyone a lot of confidence,” beamed delighted skipper Wade, who said unavailability issues with his squad so far this season had been behind their woeful start.

After it lifted them one place off the bottom of the table, Wade now hopes the unexpected victory can provide the lift the side need to get some momentum going, with this weekend seeing them head to fourth-from-bottom Mistley II (12.30pm).

“It was just a bit of wake-up call for the whole club that it is not all doom and gloom.”

Upon losing the toss on Saturday, captain Wade was invited to bat first.

Both Grant Hancock and himself made a solid start, putting on 54 for the first wicket before Hancock (24) was caught behind.

With David Hodge (9) and Joshua Burgess (5) also falling cheaply, Wade ( 31 ) made it through to drinks before being trapped in front by Walsham’s Ben George.

The mid-order revival was led by French (18) and Steve Hale (45) with some standard lusty blows which took Melford’s score towards 150 with only Phil King (13) offering any tail resistance as Melford finished on 159.

Walsham’s innings started well with both Liam Bryant and Barry Lynn facing up to Melford’s French and Chris Sturgeon.

But with Sturgeon being replaced by the evergreen Lawrence Hall wickets then began to fall.

French provided much of the impetus with excellent figures of 5-47 as he found his old self alongside Hall’s 4-20, which gave Walsham little chance of getting near their target.

Wade picked up the other wicket 1-0 and with only Lynn (61) making any impact with the bat Walsham succumbed to their first defeat, being bowled out for 98 and losing by 61 runs.

Wade will be without Hale this weekend (work commitments) as well as several players who have only committed to home matches.

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