WEPL Somerset Division
Minehead 273 beat Frome 224-9 by 49 runs

A FREDDIE Wilson-inspired Minehead downed league leaders Frome in an extraordinary game on Saturday.

Minehead opted to bat and there was drama from the off, as Ian Buchanan took opening bowler Reece Croker for 14 from the opening four balls before being caught from the final ball of the over.

Croker, who has enjoyed success at Minehead over the years, then went on the rampage, ripping through the top order as he sent Daniel Godfrey and Phillip Barraclough back without scoring, then Dan Bowditch (0) and Angus Marsh (5) in his next over.

With only six overs gone, Minehead found themselves 28-5 and Croker had bagged all five.

Alastair Harrison and Archie Marsh decided attack was the best form of defence and saw off the rest of Croker’s opening spell without further alarm.

The pair continued to score well, particularly against spin, and the partnership had reached 97 when Neil Dredge bowled Harrison for a well-made 42.

Marsh made his second fifty in as many weeks, but Minehead were not out of the woods as Croker came back for more.

His first ball back ended Marsh’s resilience on 60, and three balls later Ellis Taylor skied to mid-off to see Minehead up against it again at 137-8.

At this point, 160 looked like a good score but new man Wilson had other ideas and began sending the ball to all parts.

He and Gary Archer saw off a magnificent spell of 7-54 from Croker and began targeting the rest of the attack.

They added 52 for the ninth wicket before Archer was pinned lbw for 16.

Wilson wasn’t done there and found another reliable partner in Sean Meade, who was called up from the 3rd XI squad less than 24 hours before the game.

Wilson played sensibly, looking to take the innings as deep as possible, but consistently punished the bowlers if they missed their line as he passed 50, and was soon racing towards a hundred.

Unbelievably, he got there – smashing 16 fours and four sixes along the way – and a standing ovation was given by players from both sides and supporters alike to acknowledge one of the best innings ever seen on the Luttrell Way ground.

In doing so, he and Meade took Minehead to 273 before Wilson (112) was caught from the penultimate ball.

Credit must also go to number 11 Meade (3no) for his defiance in the 84-run final wicket stand.

Minehead knew that the job wasn’t done as Wilson, Marsh and Harrison proved what a good wicket this was.

Frome opened with the wicket-taking Croker and ex-Somerset man Robin Lett, and from the start they looked determined to show why Frome top the table.

Lett showed his class with some fantastic strokes through the off-side, and Croker proved his power as he struck two huge maximums down the ground.

Bowditch and Gary Archer kept things tight but there was still no breakthrough for Minehead as Frome reached 110-0 in the 22nd over.

With only two recognised seamers on the field, Barraclough asked Archie Marsh to bowl some part-time away swingers in the hope of producing some magic.

He did just that in his very first over, forcing Lett (63) to play across the line and Barraclough made no mistake with the gloves – a huge wicket with 160 still required.

Marsh had his tail up and struck again in his next over, nicking off Croker for 40.

The game was well and truly turned as Marsh took yet another wicket in his next over to leave Frome 115-3.

With two new men at the crease, Barraclough brought back his spinners for the middle overs and Bowditch quickly made an impact as he had Andy Veal (12) and Charlie Smith (2) caught by Taylor and Buchanan, respectively.

The game looked as good as won at 148-6 and, though Paul Sanger (25) and Tom Barton (26) batted well to give Frome half a chance, Taylor and Archer came back to clean up both batsmen.

Angus Marsh then ran out Mark Watts (18) to end a miserable day for the visitors; a great win for Minehead from such an unlikely position speaks volumes for the character within the side.

This Saturday sees Minehead go to Chard (12.30pm).