Bramhall 1st XI v Macclesfield 20/7/19

Andrew Reynolds Senior Match Reports

Top of the table Bramhall welcomed local rivals Macclesfield to Church Lane on Saturday, with revenge for the defeat earlier in the season on their minds.

Heavy rain both the day before and the morning of the match had meant the wicket was going to be tricky, and Macclesfield had no hesitation in asking their hosts to bat first.

The wicket did indeed prove to be challenging, and Macclesfield’s opening attack of Melrose and Ward were soon asking testing questions of the Bramhall batsmen. Ashley West and Adam Wilde were both dismissed within the first 10 overs, and when Jevon Kett and Nick Cantello followed them back to the pavilion, their side was wobbling at 76-4, despite all four having made promising starts.

None of the middle order were really able to settle, with Matt Higginbottom raising hopes with some well struck boundaries before he was bowled for 19, and at 131-9 the Beavers were staring into the abyss.

Simon Wilkinson joined Ryan Macciocchi at the wicket, with 15 overs still to bat, and the pair set about gaining some kind of respectability. Wilkinson punished some loose bowling from Porter, and when Macciocchi nicked behind off Moores for 9, a much more challenging total of 162 was reached.

Remarkably, despite 8 players reaching double figures, the highest scorer was number 11 Wilkinson with an unbeaten 22. 162 was still below par, but with Bramhall’s strong bowling attack it was at least something to bowl at.

Higginbottom and Chris Sanders opened up with the new ball and the visiting batsmen immediately struggled with the steep bounce and accuracy of Higginbottom in particular. He opened his account with the wicket of Macclesfield overseas Galeotti, who made an error in judgement when shouldering arms to a full ball and walked off with the expression of someone who regretted his actions.

Despite an otherwise solid start, the introduction of youngster Ollie Latter changed the game. He also found some steep bounce from just short of a length, first dismissing Isherwood and then the dangerous Sawas with catches by West at short leg. He then removed captain Porter, and Macclesfield were reeling on 62-4.

This brought Cross and Bradshaw together, whose match winning hundred partnership in the return fixture was still fresh in the memory. However, this time they both struggled in the face of accurate bowling from Wilkinson, Latter and Macciocchi. Both skied catches up to Jevon Kett, and at 89-6 Bramhall were suddenly favourites.

Sanders returned to try and finish off the tail, and charged in as fast as he has all season. He bounced Massey out, caught by Wilkinson at slip, and then peppered Jim Melrose with some hostile short bowling. Macclesfield were still well in the game, and Craig Melrose briefly counter attacked before being well stumped by Alex Hunt off Wilkinson.

As the last over began, 15 runs were needed for victory for Macclesfield, with 2 wickets remaining. Moores decided that the chase was beyond him, however, and decided that he would settle for a disappointing draw, with his team closing 10 runs behind. Latter took 3 for 15, Wilkinson 2 for 28 and there was a wicket apiece for Sanders, Higginbottom and Macciocchi.

A 10 point return was disappointing for Bramhall, who had bowled excellently to pull themselves into the game. Once again the merits of having draws in league cricket will be called into question, with neither team being satisfied with the end result and what was potentially an exciting finish ending up in a damp squib.

With other results not favouring Bramhall, they now drop back to second place and will need to beat Didsbury this Saturday to stay in contention at the top.