Macc fall short

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MAC­CLES­FIELD took on Ne­ston on Satur­day and came ag­o­nis­ingly close to com­plet­ing the dou­ble over their op­po­nents af­ter vic­tory on the open­ing day of the sea­son.

On a day of fine crick­et­ing weather, Ne­ston skip­per Brad Donelan won the toss and elected to bowl on a wicket that looked to have plenty of runs in it.

Macc lost an early wicket as John Bir­chall (5) was lured down the wicket and stumped off the spin of Mu­gava.

Rob Keen then ca­ressed a cou­ple of drives through the off side be­fore an un­for­tu­nate mix up re­sulted in the run out of Nick Ber­tus for eight, with both bats­men end­ing up at the same end.

Keen (22) was next to fall with Ward (spon­sored by East Cheshire Mort­gages) soon to fol­low, leav­ing Macc reel­ing at 50-4.

This brought Ben Mars­den and Rob Porter to the crease who went on to com­pile a vi­tal part­ner­ship of 90 to res­cue the Macc in­nings. Both be­gan with plenty of cau­tion and re­silience be­fore be­com­ing more flu­ent as each of their in­nings pro­gressed.

Porter was par­tic­u­larly pun­ish­ing with the sweep shot against Ne­ston’s spin at­tack, with three be­ing de­posited over the bound­ary for six.

Mars­den con­tin­ued to ac­cu­mu­late at the other end be­fore top edg­ing an at­tempted pull shot bring­ing to an end an im­por­tant in­nings in the con­text of Macc’s ear­lier po­si­tion.

Porter went on to hit 77 from 94 balls to progress the Macc in­nings up over the 200 mark, ably sup­ported by Tom Par­fett who looked in fine touch to end up with a quick­fire 49 not out.

In the fi­nal few overs, Sultan Raja (30*) hit four sixes over the leg side to boost the Macc to­tal up to 255-8 from their 55 overs, giv­ing valu­able momen- tum at the half way stage.

Macc took to the field with a real hope vic­tory was within their grasp but knew they must bowl to their po­ten­tial and take the chances that came their way on a de­cent wicket.

Macc had to be pa­tient for the break­through which came cour­tesy of the spin of Raja who had Ovais Yousef caught be­hind by James Cross for a well made 31.

Ne­ston’s num­ber three, Mu­gava (16), who didn’t look like he was go­ing to hang around, im­me­di­ately un­leashed a pow­er­ful cover drive to the fence.

Jack Ward then took two quick wick­ets in­clud­ing that of Mu­gava, both bats­men caught in the ring to leave Ne­ston 56-3.

New bats­men Jonny Crick (29) and James Fen­nah (22) held firm for Ne­ston, re­sist­ing the Macc at­tack whilst still stay­ing above the re­quired rate.

Bir­chall and Porter then ac­counted for both bats­men each caught and bowled which ul­ti­mately sig­nalled the end of Ne­ston’s run chase as they switched to fo­cus more on avoid­ing de­feat.

Ne­ston skip­per Donelan came to the crease with sev­eral heated ver­bal ex­changes be­tween him­self and the Macc play­ers.

How­ever, if any­thing this ap­peared to make Donelan even more de­ter­mined to re­sist the Macc charge for vic­tory.

Ian Tait came back into the at­tack to blow the Ne­ston lower or­der away with the help of two fan­tas­tic catches taken by Ber­tus at sec­ond slip.

De­spite the ef­forts of Tait, it wasn’t quite enough as Donelan held firm to end up un­beaten on 48 from 95 de­liv­er­ies.

The fine mar­gins in cricket were demon­strated by an edge from Donelan fall­ing just inches short of wicket keeper Cross in the fi­nal over with Ne­ston sur­viv­ing with a draw end­ing up on 165-9.

Tait fin­ished with fine fig­ures of 4-38 and Ward 2-34. It was a fan­tas­tic ef­fort from Macc but left an over­all sense of frus­tra­tion, fall­ing just short of claim­ing a vi­tal vic­tory.

Macc will look to take this pos­i­tive per­for­mance into next Satur­days game where they face a tough fix­ture at Ch­ester.

Dar­ren Bolling­ton

●● Mac­cles­field CC’s un­der 9s were cel­e­brat­ing this week­end af­ter win­ning the Prest­bury 6s Tour­na­ment. The squad is pic­tured above in their newly-spon­sored team kit pro­vided by Chrome Mo­tors.

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