Maldon hosted Worlington at Drapers Farm in an important Division One clash. The visitors led the way in the Division 1 table, following an unbeaten start to the season. In contrast, the hosts were in need of a win, following three defeats to opening their campaign.
Worlington Captain Graham Ford won the toss, and decided to bat, despite the grey skies overhead. The showery weather meant the exchanges were interrupted by rain. In between the rain, Worlington openers Arthur Summers and captain Ford made steady progress, despite the best efforts of Matt Wild.
Wild consistently made life difficult for both batsman, with the odd boundary of the front foot releasing the pressure on the batsman.
After reaching 77 without loss after 20 overs, Ford particularly tried to increase the scoring rate, using his feet to hit both Ian Elliott and Toby Pugh over the top for boundaries. At the other end, Summers remained watchful as the team score passed the hundred mark.
At 30 overs, Worlington looked well set for a large total, with the score 112 without loss. Summers looked set to reach his fifty, but fell two runs short of the landmark when he drove Martyn Coker’s leg arm spin to Ross Walpole at cover. Coker then struck in his next over when he dismissed Ford for 59, who chopped the ball into his own stumps.
As the Maldon spinners began to slow the run rate, Jimmy Watson and Sean Cooper tried to respond. However, Watson was beaten by a well-flighted Ian Elliott delivery, which turned past Watson’s bat and pad to hit the top of his off stump. With the potentially destructive Watson gone, Maldon continued to squeeze the scoring rate.
Once Elliott’s 10 overs were complete, Toby Pugh return to continue to put Worlington’s batsman under pressure. Pugh struck twice, dismissing Cooper and Ollie Gallop, as Worlington’s efforts to put the foot down in the final few overs failed to take off. Coker picked up two more wickets in the final over, to finish with figures of 4/40 from his 10 overs. From 112/0 with 20 overs left, the visitors would have been disappointed with their final total of 193/7 from 50 overs.
Maldon’s reply started with Max Bryant and Jimmy Ainscough being assisted by Worlington’s bowlers, who bowled several wides and no-balls to help get the score moving. Bryant struck a nice boundary, but was soon caught behind for 8. Ainscough, who was also given a life early on, found scoring easy, playing his renowned cover and straight drives with aplomb. Ainscough then struck a magnificent pulled 6 over deep midwicket off the bowling of Cooper, as he looked set to dominate proceedings. However, he was caught for 44 shortly afterwards, leaving Maldon 63/2, and still in need of 130 runs of an opening win of the season.
However, the Maldon innings would see no further loss as Ross Walpole and Ian Elliott joined together in a match-winning partnership. The studious Walpole nudged and nurdled the ball square of the wicket to great effect. Elliott, playing only his second innings of the season, was in imperious form. He was particularly severe on any bowling that crept onto his pads. He reached his fifty in double quick time, and from a position of jeopardy, Maldon found themselves firmly in the driving seat.
Elliott finished with an unbeaten 81 from 97 balls with 12 boundaries. However, it was left to Walpole to seal the victory with a drive through cover to the boundary. His 36 not out built a firm foundation for Maldon’s run chase, which reached its target with 39 balls to spare.
Maldon’s victory gave the side a boost after a tricky start to the season, and they will look to build on that as they travel to Hadleigh this Saturday.