Cricket: Great Melton eager to get new campaign underway
Great Melton's cricketers, in common with all others in Norfolk, have gone from worrying about the effects of a hosepipe ban to wondering when they'll actually be able to play cricket.
The constant rain has put the season on hold, with all matches, junior coaching and senior practice completely washed out and groundsmen all over the county tearing their hair out in frustration at the lack of pitch preparation time.
Having finished their indoor pre-season nets in early April, Melton's preparations have, therefore, stalled. With all four Saturday teams looking forward to competing in higher divisions it has been a very disappointing start to the season.
However, it has been a busy winter for Melton with junior sides competing in various indoor tournaments as well as the usual winter coaching sessions. There has also been some team strengthening as Melton's top two sides prepare for life in Divisions Two and Four of the Norfolk Alliance.
Most significant has been the signings of experienced campaigner Nigel Young, who has moved from the newly amalgamated Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers, and Vauxhall Mallards batsman and former Topcroft skipper, James Shipley.
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The acquisition of two proven Alliance campaigners will undoubtedly strengthen skipper Mark Scott's hand as he attempts to steer the first team to a third successive promotion. It will also compensate for the loss of leg-spinner Michael Sibbert whose job has taken him away from the area.
In addition Melton have also gained Adam Thompson, a young seam bowler who played for Cringleford in Norfolk League Division One last season, former Asmanhaugh bowler Chris Wright, Freddie Burgess who has moved into the area, Adam Crump from Mundford and Tim Hales from Bunwell.
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The first team look to have a good chance of doing well with Young and Shipley adding to a batting line-up that includes the league's second most prolific batsman (after Steve Goldsmith), Richard Wood and, once he returns from University, the talented Alex Cooper, as well as Dave Allum who scored a lot of runs in his first season for the firsts in 2011 and Norfolk U15 batsman, Chris Greenslade. Marcus Godbold, Richard Waddell, Nick Gristwood, Olly Harris and Scott himself should ensure Melton bat all the way down while Waddell, Scott, Gristwood, Young and, perhaps, Greenslade provide the seam options, supplemented by slow bowlers Harris and Cooper.
Melton have added a women's team this season, with co-ordinator Mark Cadge and manager Chris Brook looking to build up female membership at the club. Melton's scoreboard has been refurbished and the Nat West Cricketforce Day at the end of March saw many of the pre-season jobs on the ground completed and the club's huge junior membership are champing at the bit to get going. All that is needed is for the rain to stop and the sun to shine.