Maldon travelled to Bury St Edmunds for the opening game of the 2023 season. Despite plenty of heavy rain in the build up, the Bury ground staff worked wonders to prepare a hard pitch that looked good to bat on.
The visitors gave a debut to New Zealander Connah Thompson, who arrived in the country earlier in the week. New Maldon skipper Ross Walpole lost the toss, and was asked to bat first.
Walpole and vice captain Max Bryant made a positive start, with scoring slowed by the wet outfield. Walpole scored the opening boundary of the season, before adding a 6 sliced over the cover point boundary.
The fine opening partnership of 65 finally ended went Bryant went for 25. Unfortunately, Maldon couldn’t capitalise on this platform with Walpole (45) and Ian Elliott falling in quick succession to make the score 76/3. Jimmy Ainscough (19) and Matt Coppen (20) saw Maldon past 100. However, the Drapers Farm outfit then lost 3 quick wickets again, teetering on 117/6.
Jamie Brown took the positive route, looking to hit strongly. New Zealander Connah Thompson started promisingly, before Thompson was unfortunately run out for 5.
Fin Jones then provided support for Brown, as the pair added 42 for the 9th wicket. Brown struck powerful boundaries on the leg side, reaching his maiden 1st team fifty in the penultimate over. Brown ended on 52, and Maldon’s total of 195/9 look competitive in the early season encounter.
Left arm opening duo Fin Jones and Connah Thompson both put early pressure on the hosts, with Justin Bishop responding for Bury with some strong boundaries. Once Jones trapped James Sturgeon lbw for 2, the spinners took control. Ian Elliott exerted control at one end, but it was Toby Pugh who proved the match winner. The former captain was a constant threat, striking with his 2nd ball as Bishop chipped to Ross Walpole at mid wicket. Pugh then bowled Hugh Stanton with a beautiful turning delivery, who was followed next ball by Yann Johnson. Pugh’s hat trick ball was just as good, with Adam Kizis lbw to give Pugh his hat trick.
Pugh continued to terrorise the Bury batters, again striking twice in two balls to trap both Riddick and McKinney lbw. However, Pugh couldn’t convert a 2nd hat hattrick within 3 overs as the 3rd delivery was survived by Joe Corder. Corder soon struck Ian Elliott’s straight ball to Ross Walpole, and Elliott ended the match 2 balls later when number 11 Rajapaol found Fin Jones in the deep.
Pugh’s 6/32 marked a superb start to the year, while he was ably supported by Elliott (3/27).
Maldon will aim to build upon their opening day success as they host Woolpit at Drapers Farm.
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