Macc on slide after Toft loss
MACCLESFIELD returned to action with a short trip away to top of the table Toft where they suffered an eight-wicket defeat.
The home side won the toss and elected to field first. Macc’s openers, Rob Keen and Peter Barron, looked to start positively, taking seven off the first over. It quickly became apparent that the wicket was in good condition and it seemed a perfect day to set a big total.
Keen went about hitting some lovely early boundaries, whilst Barron supported, hitting the occasional four as well.
As the pair brought up a fifty partnership, Toft discarded of the seam bowlers and brought on the spin.
And this proved to be a key moment in the match.
In the third over of spin, Barron (24) went to sweep the left arm orthodox bowling of Jimmy Lomas, but was out LBW. The score now became 60-1 after 17.1 overs.
Macc then continued to look to be positive against the Toft spinners, but Nick Bertus’ (11) attempted shot over the in-field was mistimed, culminating in a good catch from the Toft fielder running back at mid-on. Lomas (2-46) now had two wickets in his first few overs.
A couple of overs later, Rob Jones, who operated in tandem with Lomas, joined in the wicket-taking when his leg spin attributed for the dismissal of first John Birchall, who was bowled for a duck and then Rob Porter (8), when he top edged a sweep to short fine leg.
Macc were now 105-4 around the midpoint of their innings, and as captain Tom Parfett came to the crease, a partnership was needed.
Keen and Parfett started building a very handy partnership indeed. Keen added more elegant boundaries to his earlier tally and brought up his well-deserved 50 in the process. Macc moved on to 150-4 inside 45 overs. However when Parfett (14) was caught on the boundary, the valuable 46 run partnership came to an end.
With around 10 overs to go Macc were hoping for at least 220. They looked like achieving this when Keen continued strongly and incoming batsman, Alex Griffiths, supported him well, busily going about his innings at almost a run a ball. The pair put on 26 runs in fairly quick time.
However Keen, who was bearing down on what would have been a magnificent century, was caught for 88 as he tried to force the run rate on in the closing overs. It was a tremendous knock, encompassing both style and determination. Macc were now on 177-6.
James Cross was next to go when he was bowled for seven, but not before he had hit a one-bounce four over mid-wicket off his first ball. Griffiths (14) was caught not long after, whilst Will Smith and Chris Moores took Macc to the 200 milestone.
An unfortunate run out saw Moores (6) dismissed and Macc were now 2009. Smith (13 not out) hit a strong boundary down the ground in the final over, but when Raja (3) was caught off Jones (5-42) with one ball to go, Macc finished on 209 all out.
In reply, Toft had a shaky start when opener James Drummond was trapped LBW by Birchall for five, leaving the hosts 7-1. A few moments later, Birchall hit the pads again, on the key man, Rob Jones. However the umpire waved away the strong appeals.
Jones then set about his innings, demonstrating expert timing and strong hitting. He constantly drove good length balls back past the bowler.
Jones raced to 29, when in an eventful over he hit one back at the bowler Chris Moores, who made, what appeared to be, a brilliant low-down catch, only for the umpire to adjudge that it had touched the ground. However Macc did get their man a couple of balls later when Jones again timed another shot which was caught at mid-wicket. Toft were now 50-2 and Macc were right in the game.
However, the away side just could not get that crucial next-wicket. The introduction of spin from Porter and Raja, could not provide the answer either.
Although Macc were bowling well, the batsmen, Jake Hancock and Henry Hughes, did not look like getting out.
The longer they batted the more confident they became. Hancock began picking up the pace of his innings with some outstanding sixes and the fifty partnership soon came up midway through the Toft innings.
The determined Australian, Hancock, played brilliantly as he steered Toft passed under a hundred to win, passed the 100 partnership and towards his own century.
Meanwhile Hughes was also playing some classy shots and brought up his 50. As the overs went by their partnership grew in strength.
Macc brought about a few bowling changes; Will Smith, Keen and the reintroduction of Chris Moores, but none of them could get the vital breakthrough. Instead Toft held firm and Hancock brought up his 100 with a fine pull shot. He ended on 104 not out, with Hughes on 59 not out.
The unbroken partnership was worth 160, as Toft cruised to victory in 46.1 overs, ending on 210-2.
Macc had come up against a very convincing title contender and the eight-wicket defeat means they only picked up six points, moving down to eighth in the process. Next week they are at home to Grappenhall, which is now a big game for the Victoria Road side.
●● Macclesfield suffered an eight-wicket loss against leaders Toft at the weekend