Season 2024 – Week 1 Match Reports – Weekend 27th & 28th April

1st XI – Away at Macclesfield

The Macclesfield ground staff deserve huge credit for getting this game on, one of only two played in division one, last Saturday. Despite the cold, damp, bowler friendly conditions, an exciting game of cricket ensued, with Marple finally taking the spoils after a spirited home ninth wicket stand of 58 between Finn Nash and Sam Hughes almost brought an unlikely victory for Macclesfield.

Earlier, there had been surprise that Marple skipper Andrew Hall had elected to bat first, the pitch inevitably green and variable. Hall must have wondered about his decision when Marple, almost immediately, found themselves 5 for 3. Jacob Noakes was out to the first ball of the season, and fellow opener Matt Barrow also bagged a golden duck. Connor Ramsay became the excellent and skiddy Miles Bradshaw’s second scalp when he was bowled for 2.

Fortunately for Marple, their overseas player for 2024, from Tasmania, Zac Phair and Max Fitzgerald steadied the ship, not without alarms, but they both showed good application. The left-handed, elegant Phair was solid and correct, and once Fitzgerald settled, he began to show the confidence of 2023, finding and clearing the ropes. The fourth wicket pair added 47 before Phair, 16, edged a good one from Nash to home skipper Birchall at slip.

From here though, Marple made a decent recovery. Fitzgerald played the best knock of the match hitting 47. Andrew Hall showed glimpses of his class, adding 27 with Fitzgerald, and Makin made a valuable 20, before becoming Bradshaw’s third victim, losing his off stump to a beauty. The lower order scrambled a few runs in the tricky conditions, and a final tally of 134 had Marple well in the game. Bradshaw 3 for 29, Palmes 2 for 17, and Nash 2 for 26 were the pick for Macclesfield.

The home side also found run scoring problematic, and Rob Kingham and Jack Grundy started well for Marple. Indeed, Grundy picked up the first three wickets of Jack Massey (15) and Joe Moores (0) both lbw, and James Longhorn(1) brilliantly caught behind by keeper Noakes who did an excellent job behind the timbers all throughout the innings. At 30 for 3, the victory target looked a long way off.

Grundy’s partner Kingham took a little longer to get into his stride, but after a few overs he proved a real handful. Looking a yard or so quicker than last season, he ripped out the Macclesfield middle order, with the ball that castled Birchall rivalling the Makin delivery for “ball of the day.”

With Phair also picking up a wicket with his useful medium pace at 58 for 7, all looked lost for the home side.

Nash and Hughes then began their unlikely stand. New match regulations, and “Win/Lose cricket,” mean only ten overs per bowler are allowed, and there is little leeway for anything wide. The batters appeared in no difficulty, and Joe Cash looked cold and stiff at the start of his spell. With a good number of wides helping things along, the runs flowed. A run out seemed the only way a wicket would fall, and it duly came, when Sam Stretton picked up cleanly and returned to Cash at the bowler’s end, Hughes run out by miles for an excellent 30. 

Number 11, Palmes joined Nash, and creamed his second ball from Grundy for four through extra cover, which brought huge cheers from the sizeable home support. He then hung in with Nash, adding a further 15 for the tenth wicket.

With Grundy and Kingham bowled out, Hall threw the ball again to the wily left arm spinner Mark Makin. Makin is not often “phased,” and here he bowled full and straight to Nash who chipped the first delivery of the 38th over straight back to the bowler, who made no mistake. Cue, Marple joy, and a very crestfallen Nash, who had played so well up to that point. For Marple Kingham had 4 for 36, including a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Cawood, Grundy 3 for 31, Phair 1 for 20, Makin1 for 16, and Cash, settling down well, 0 for 26 from 9 overs.

This was a very good win for Marple on their return to division one of the Cheshire County League. The conditions were bleak and very cold, but the team has got used to winning after a season in division two. They never lost belief. The main worry was the number of wides sent down, but hopefully, the tight new regulations will concentrate the minds of the bowlers! Next Saturday, 4th May, Marple are at home to Cheadle, 12.00 noon start. They also entertain Elworth at Bowden Lane next Sunday at 1.00pm in the Cheshire Cup.

2nd XI at Home to Timperley 2nd XI

A similarly close game at Bowden Lane saw Marple 2nds lose by just one wicket to Timperley seconds. Marple grafted hard to 113 all out, again in tough batting conditions. Veteran opener James Crisall top scored with 27 and young debutant Charlie Hodgson made a very fine 24 adding 49 for the second wicket with “JC.” After this it was a grim struggle for the rest of the batting card, as man of the match Callum Yates proved almost unplayable with 7 for 10.

However, Marple appeared well on course for victory, with the evergreen George Clarke bang on target with four for 26. Leg spinner Hodgson also impressed mightily with the ball taking 3 for 17. Opening bowler Tom Reeve also bagged 2 for 25. Yates was to have an incredible day though. Coming to the wicket at 41 for 7, he mixed defence and aggression, but still needed support from Cheema and Spencer, numbers 10 and 11 to guide his side home. Yates finished on a remarkable 56 not out to add to his 7 for 10. A one man show, and agony for James Hirst’s valiant side.

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