Hyde made the short journey to a sun-drenched Bowden Lane, to take on Marple. The wicket looked flat and the conditions were perfect for batting, making the decision at the toss an obvious one. Once again, the coin seemed to defy Partridge, who has only won two tosses in the league this season, and Morgan decided that Marple were going to bat first.
With Whittaker absent, it was Turner who shared the new rock with Hannah, while Wood and the Marple captain opened up the Marple innings. Hyde made the breakthrough in the 5th over, when Hannah found an inside edge from Wood and it was taken well by Allcock. Ramsey tried to stay with Morgan, but Hannah’s extra bounce got the better of him, well held by Baker who took the catch while back peddling. 31/2 and Marple were off to a shaky start, and needed to build an innings around a player or players. Morgan’s time at the crease was ended when he was caught in the cordon by Balderson, becoming Hannah’s 3rd victim, and as Marple’s leading run scorer, was a massive scalp. Hall and Brown looked to accumulate runs adding an important 24 to the score, when Balderson separated them, trapping Hall LBW. 70/4, and Marple were in trouble. The top order was back in the shed, and a special middle order performance was required to stop Hyde from working their way through the batting line up. And special was exactly what Marple got from Brown, and familiar face, Makin. The former Hyde keeper, while no longer applying his trade behind the stumps, proved that he is still nothing to be trifled with in front of them. Together with Brown, the pair added 56 at just shy of a run a ball, seeing the Australian past his 50, before he departed, caught at Mid-on by Duffy off the Bowling of Young. Paulett helped Makin to add another 38 in quick time, but didn’t hang around, Young this time the fielder off of Turner’s bowling. 164/6, and with only 15 overs left, Hyde were looking to rip through the remaining batsmen, before Makin could force Marple to a sizeable total. Fitzgerald, however, batted freely and scored quickly adding a personal 29 in a 7th wicket stand of 59. Makin lifted the bat, and seemed determined to power onto 3 figures. Fitzgerald’s cameo came to an end when hew was well caught by Turner off the bowling of Hannah, and this brought Grundy to the crease. Grundy seemed to grasp his task, rotate the strike, and he did so getting Makin as much of the strike as possible. Makin didn’t manage to pass a century, but he did finish on an unbeaten 92 and Marple finished 255/7. A formidable total, but it seemed to be the deck to chase it on. Regardless, it would require a stellar batting performance from Hyde to get it.
Partridge and Luke Young opened the Hyde run chase, and after Hyde’s struggles against spin in recent weeks, Marple coupled the Aussie opener Brown with the experienced Greasley. The decision paid dividends almost immediately when Partridge, looking to be positive, miscued Greasley to be caught by a back peddling Wood at Mid-off. Balderson joined Luke, and the pair navigated Brown fairly well, and began to push up the Hyde scoring. They added 49 for the 2nd wicket before Luke flashed hard at a Brown delivery and was caught by a reaction catch by Makin in the slips. Duffy wasn’t out in the middle for long, being castled by Brown. Hyde were 64/3 and the run chase appeared to have stalled. Elliot Young joined Balderson at the crease, and as so often this season, the duo built a solid partnership. They added 51, seeing Balderson past his half century, unfortunately chopping on off Wood for a brilliant 54. Young seemed to be getting the better of Greasley, dispatching him over the fence on 4 occaisons, however, Greasley got him in the end when he was caught in the deep for 42. 141/5 and 255 seemed a long way off, though Hyde had a lot of batting to come. Fitzsimmons and Turner took on the task of trying to guide Hyde over the line. Turner, clearly revelling in his promotion from 10 to 7, began to find the fence regularly, while Fitzsimmons took a more measure approach. They were separated when Brown had Fitzsimmons bowled, but Allcock picked up the mantle and began rotating the strike effectively, with barely a dot in his innings. Adding 44 for the 7th wicket, the somewhat distant total felt well within Hyde’s grasp. Having put men out to prevent Turner going over the top, he backed away to leg, only to snick to Morgan for a vital 43. Both Cranmer and Baker managed to add a boundary before both fell LBW to Brown, completing a fine day for the Aussie, with a 5fer to go with his 50. Hannah and Allcock ran for anything, but with the last ball of the game Hyde still needed 6. Marple needed a wicket to win the game. Brown could have gone full to try and get the wicket, risking being put for the game winning 6. Instead he bowled it short, hitting Allcock in the abdomen, ensuring that the game ended in a draw, with Hyde ending up 250/9.
Despite not getting the win, we showed great grit and determination in their efforts to down a large score. Losing wickets at inopportune moments could have meant that Hyde would collapse. Instead they battled through to the end and fell just short. The all-round batting display shows that Hyde will not simply roll over in difficult situations. At the halfway point in the season, Hyde find themselves 5th in the Premier League, far better than some anticipated at the beginning of the year. We also are in the quarter-finals of the Cheshire Cup and the Semi-finals of the T20, so lets push on for a successful second half.
By James Howe