No Cash rewards in Marple opener
Marple 176 all out (48 overs) 9 points lost to Grappenhall 177 for 8 (43.2 overs) 25 points by two wickets.
AMATURE innings of 37 not out, under pressure, from Grappenhall’s impressive middle order batsman Arthur Pennington guided the visitors to a narrow two wicket win at Bowden Lane last Saturday.
This, after a superb spell of 4 for 29 from Marple’s off spinner Joe Cash had turned the game the home side’s way.
Marple and Grappenhall were both relegated from the Cheshire County Premier League at the end of the last full pre Covid season in 2019.
On a glorious mid April afternoon, the ground superbly presented by groundsman Mike Hibbert on the first weekend of the new season, they met again.
For both sides, this game was likely to provide a template as to how their respective seasons in division one might pan out. The two clubs have been pretty evenly matched over the years, dating back to Cheshire Cup meetings in the 1980’s and also a terrific challenge match played between the respective champions of the Cheshire County League and Manchester Association in 1988, Marple edging that game by just one run.
On winning the toss, Marple skipper Jim Morgan elected to take first knock, and he was soon very glad that the coin had come down in his favour.
A rejuvenated Andrew Hall was in prime touch, and his partner, restored to the first team after a number of seasons in second team cricket, was James Crisall.
The pair showed class and experience, with some glorious strokeplay on a good Marple track.
The Grappenhall opening attack of the slippery Aaron McCabe and the canny Sam Guest is a good one, but here they were mastered by Hall and Crisall. They added 90 quality runs, before Crisall (44) fell to first change seamer Lewis Porter.
Max Fitzgerald, at three, immediately settled with Hall, and they took the total to 120, before Fitzgerald (24) was bowled, also by Porter, an innings rich in promise. Morgan (0) and Ramsay (4) both then went quickly to leave Marple on 124 for 4, the good start squandered.
Ed Saxelby settled in well with Hall, and it looked as though the innings might be revived. However, at 143, Hall (61) mistimed a pull from a rare Guest long hop and dollied a catch to mid on. It had been a fine start for Hall, his timing and placement as of old.
Mudassar Panchbhaya (10) looked secure in company with Saxleby (24), who played some pleasing strokes, but they both went at 170. The tail was blown away in quick time by the deceptive left arm seamer Josh Hayes, who ended with an excellent 5 for 29.
A disappointing finish to the innings for Marple, but with run chasing always challenging at Bowden Lane, they had the runs on the board, and were well in the game.
After the tea interval, the cricket was keenly contested. Skipper Adam Roylance has a good record against Marple, and his partner, the experienced Yorkshireman Peter Barnes notched a century on his last visit to Bowden Lane.
However, Jack Grundy was right in the groove for Marple. He bowled a testing line and length, causing concern for both batsmen.
His partner, the veteran Andy Wylie, whilst not quite as accurate had no luck initially, both batsmen edging him through the slips for fours. Grundy had a deserved early victim when Barnes, never comfortable today, was yorked for 5.
This brought to the crease Grappenhall’s marquee signing, the former Gloucestershire and KwaZulu Natal first class batsman Grant Hodnett. He looked to be in imperious form immediately, effortlessy lacing Wylie for consecutive boundaries off front and back foot.
However, just as it appeared Wylie must be rested, Marple’s skilful operator produced an absolute beauty to deceive and bowl Hodnett for just 16. At 44 for 2, it was an even contest.
Will Fell, coincidentally a colleague of Ed Saxelby at Birmingham University,
looked a stylish player at four, and he settled with Roylance, who mixed up some superb boundaries with two very close calls for lbw against Wylie.
From Marple’s point of view, the game now seemed to drift somewhat. Morgan persevered with his opening attack, but the batsmen were relatively comfortable, and runs came at an excellent rate, boundaries scorching across the fast outfield.
The bowling was changed, and Joe Cash soon found the right pace at which to bowl. Maybe Fell had become a little over confident, for he played all round one and was palpably lbw to Cash.
Two balls later, former Lancashire batsman Richard Green was comprehensively bowled for a duck. Cash looked unstoppable.
George Clarke, in support, at the other end, was not quite able to keep up the pressure though, and Arthur Pennington was able to get a start, whilst Roylance continued on his merry way.
Cash’s terrific spell continued though as he bowled both Roylance (67) and Albert Pennington (7). Marple were in with a real shot of pulling off the victory, but Arthur Pennington now showed his true colours. Not a “pretty” player, he was mighty effective, mixing solid defence and showed fine judgement as to when to attack. His running between the wickets was also good. Mudassar Panchbhaya bowled a steady spell in support of Cash, gaining the wicket of Albert Pennington, but Arthur (37 not out), with good support from McCabe (7 not out), took his side to victory by two wickets in the 44th over.
Ultimately, this was a disappointment for Marple, albeit against what is surely one of the stronger sides in the division. The loss of nine wickets for just 56 runs, after such a promising beginning proved costly.
However, Joe Cash’s superb spell of 4 for 29 almost pulled off a fine win. Maybe Morgan could have mixed up his attack a little more, but Arthur Pennington was not to be denied. Marple visit Brooklands next Saturday, 12 noon start.
They will be buoyed by the competitive start they made to the season in this game, and also by the prospect of a return to the side of several quality and experienced players after injuries and family issues.
Marple seconds made the long trip to Nantwich on Saturday.
As was the case with the first team, they made an excellent start, but from 78 for one fell away to just 113 all out. Sam Stretton, 47, Mark Nicholson, 13, and Matt Barrow, 20, had laid a good base for the innings, but inexperience in the lower order against good bowling proved to be side’s undoing, the returning James Hirst with 11 being the exception. Simon Dimelow with 5 for 41 was the main destroyer for Nantwich.
Although the home side won by eight wickets, after a solid start form openers Chris Simpson, 35, and Jake Pearson, 55 not out, Marple bowled and fielded impressively. New captain Connor Bergin bowled a tight spell of 11 overs for 22, and Marple newcomer Kaiser Chowdrey impressed with both wickets to fall taking 2 for 24 on debut.
A terrific game of T20 cricket between two excellent third teams saw Marple/Compstall defeat Heaton Mersey by the slender margin of just six runs at Bowden Lane last Sunday. Matt Leech, 58, and Will Darby, 35, added 108 for the third wicket.
The remaining batsmen chipped in and 127 for 5 was a useful score.
In the reply wickets fell at regular intervals, all the home bowlers doing a good job. When it looked as though a comfortable win for the home side would ensue, Waqar Rashid, 22 not out, and Akhil Kamath, 26 not out from just 12 deliveries, almost pulled off a win for the visitors.
Sam Stretton with 3 for 24 was Marple/Compstall’s most successful bowler, and he was well supported by Connor Bergin, Sam Saxelby, and Andy Massey who all had a wicket apiece. Mersey ended on 121 for 6.