Matt’s all-round exploits help to put March top

MATT WILCOX has been heralded as the best overseas amateur cricketer to have played for March Town after yet another fantastic all-round performance in Saturday’s win against Granta on Saturday.

Wilcox not only completed a second successive century with 113 runs but also ripped through the Granta batting with six wickets for 57 runs to help take March into a five-point lead at the top of the Tucker Premier Division.

Club skipper Chris Ringham said: “It is hard to compare Matt with a professional like Joe Grant but he is certainly the best overseas all-rounder we have had at the club.”

Ringham added: “On Saturday after taking six wickets he said he would go out and score a century. And that was after we had a team talk before the game about other players making a contribution and not just Matt but obviously he was not listening.

“We are just very lucky to have him at the club.”

His 113 runs on Saturday took Wilcox to 517 for the season on Saturdays at an average of 64.63 and he has taken 18 wickets at an average of 16.33.

The 19-year-old is really enjoying his time with March and said: “When I came last season I was a bit nervous but the players soon helped me settle in and I really enjoyed it so there was no problem coming back this season.

“If you are playing in a team doing well it is a great help too and it gives you the confidence to go out and play.

Before the season started Ringham was very hopeful that his side could chase the title this season but he is still surprised how well they have done to take top spot at this stage of the season.

Now the question is whether March can take the title and Ringham commented: “If Matt continues in this vein of form we must have every chance. But I also think we have other players in the squad that can contribute to success and if they can step up to the plate should Matt fail in a game then we have a very good chance.

“We are only a third of the way through the season so far so there is a long way to go, but we have the confidence and the players to achieve it.”

March got off to a very good start when Granta lost an opener with a run out in the first over and then Wilcox picked up three wickets inside his first six overs, as Granta soon found themselves 38-4.

Some defiant middle-order batting gave Granta some hope, but once Wilcox was back on bowling in tandem with off-spinner Shardul Brahmbhatt, that was it. Wilcox finished with six for 57 and Brahmbhatt picked up another three wickets for 58.

Then Wilcox set about the Granta with the bat and in a two-hour innings hit 13 boundaries with good support from Brahmbhatt, who weighed in with 28 runs for the second wicket, and Rob Tombs 22 runs for the third wicket as March went on to knock the runs off in 32 overs for the loss of three wickets.

Ringham added: “We won the toss and put Granta into bat as they had been batting out for draws in recent games. We got a good start and Matt took three early wickets in his first spell and then mopped up the tail in his second shift. Shardul also bowled well again.”

A dramatic change in the fortunes of the batting by second in the table Hardwick virtually gifted March seconds a four-wicket win in CCA Senior League Division 2.

Hardwick were 26 without loss after four overs, only to be bowled out for 113 in just 31 overs – off-spinner Richard Green taking 4-19.

They set off in Twenty20 mode and continued in the same vein even when wickets were tumbling.

Callum Young made the initial breakthrough on his way to 2-40, with Andy Wright taking 2-26. Then the experience of Green and Stuart Arnold (2-28) finally wore Hardwick down to their modest total.

But at 18-3 March themselves needed a cool head and that came in the shape of Ben Pyle, whose 36 not out went a long way to bagging top spot in the division.

He came in at six and cracked five boundaries, with wicketkeeper David Hodson smearing four big shots off just 13 balls for an unbeaten 22 in the 115-6 winning total.

March thirds are just not the same on grass and after five games on the Neale Wade plastic this season, they were scythed down to size with a seven-wicket defeat, at Wenny Road, by a competitive Chatteris seconds in CCA Junior Division 2A.

Second in the table March were bowled out for 163 by a Chatteris side who saved at least 30 runs in the field. They certainly backed up their attack, who bowled with aggression.

After the loss of an early wicket, March put on 51 for the second wicket stand until opener Pat Ringham (21) had his wickets demolished by a delivery from Stuart Porter that swung in. The left-armer went on to claim the scalp of Nathan Foad, who top-scored with 25.

Brett Tinnion played some good shots for his 25 but he fell to the pace of Jim Surtees, who should have bagged a hat-trick but for a spilled catch at cover. However, the visitors were buoyed when the tail wagged and Jacob Gray (14no) and Stuart Fox (13) made useful runs in the 163 total.

After a sound start, a good 72-run second wicket stand from Chatteris’s Malc Perry 54 not out and Matt Hollis 46 put them in the box seat, with the March attack bowling too many wides.

And despite off-spinner Stuart Fox picking up two wickets, the home side coasted home with Grant Osbourn 27 not out seeing them home with Perry for a well deserved victory and the local bragging rights!

An outstanding all-round display from Manuj Patel helped March fourths to a two-wicket CCA Junior League Division 5A victory over Witcham seconds at the Neale Wade.

He helped bowl the visitors out for 144-7 with his four for 15 spell and then followed that up with a dazzling 82 in the 146-8 reply against a side who hammered them by 94 runs just a fortnight ago!