With one home win and one away loss from their opening two matches, Bramhall’s 1st XI were determined to continue their home form as they hosted visitors Marple on Saturday. After a touching minute’s silence for recently departed BCC life member Nick Daber, Marple’s opening batsmen took to the crease have elected to bat first on a wicket slowed by midweek rain.
Bramhall were still short of two first choice quicker seamers, but the opening attack of spinner Simon Wilkinson and the medium paced Luke Littlewood kept the visitors under pressure with very little in the way of loose deliveries. This slow rate of scoring continued throughout the first half of the innings, and Marple were still to reach fifty by the time the very welcome mid-innings drinks arrived.
Not long after drinks, the experienced Andrew Hall became the first of Iftikhar Naseer’s 4 wickets, after he’d replaced Littlewood’s miserly 10 over spell that yielded just 9 runs. Marple then quickly slipped to 58-3 as Naseer made life difficult for the incoming batsmen, but opening Mark Makin was crucially still accruing runs at the other end for Marple. Makin managed to put on small partnerships with 2 middle order colleagues to get the score through to 110, but his dismissal – caught in the deep for a patient 61 – saw a dramatic collapse. Marple lost their last 6 wickets for just 3 runs, as the returning Simon Wilkinson (5-18) took a remarkable 5 wickets for 1 run in his second spell, including his first ever senior hat trick.
The Bramhall bowlers, and fielders to a large part, had done their jobs well in restricting Marple to a very gettable total of 113 in 51 overs. However, that all 10 wickets had fallen to spin should not have been lost on the Beavers’ batters. The notable levels of turn from the wicket, albeit slow, had made batting tricky and it might not be a straightforward chase in the second half.
Marple could not have started their bowling in more extreme fashion from their way their batting ended after tea. At the end of the first over, both Bramhall openers were back in the hutch as they slipped to 1-2, thanks to the wiles of veteran spinner Andy Greasley. It wasn’t too many more overs later when trouble had doubled for the hosts, as the top four crumbled to leave disarray at 8-4. However, Naseer and wicketkeeper Sam Johnson set about patiently restoring some order, and were looking more settled, despite the odd scare. However, Johnson was too keen to set off for a single from the non-striker’s end, and was run out to leave Bramhall on 37-5. With Greasley still on, danger was never far away, and Bramhall soon slipped further to 46-7. Naseer’s dismissal for 27 was warmly welcomed by the visitors, fully aware of his ability to change a game in a short period. Still seemingly batting low at number 9, all-rounder Ryan Macciocchi found himself at the crease, but made a confident start with some intelligent strokeplay against an attacking field. The score had limped through to 72, and possibly a flicker of belief amongst the home support, before the eighth wicket fell – again to Greasley. The ninth soon followed and Macciocchi was only able to add another few runs to his total before he was again left short of partners, finishing on 26 not out.
Bramhall were all out for paltry 83, to lose by a remarkable 30 runs. Marple’s hero with the ball was Greasley, twirling away continuously for almost 17 overs to collect 8 wickets for 34 runs.
Bramhall will need to get their act together, and hope for a more batsman friendly surface, as they face Lindow in the T20 this Thursday evening and then Neston on Saturday – both away fixtures.