Macc fall short
CHESHIRE COUNTY CRICKET LEAGUE
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.
●● 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.