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The Miracle Melson Maiden

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The Miracle Melson Maiden

A few years back Lapworth Cricket Club and it’s Melson Memorial Ground was host to the most catastrophically bad over ever to produce six dot balls. It was about halfway through the opposition innings. The ball had been chucked to Lapworth legend, Tim Fell. What followed was a maiden as miraculous as any you could ever hope to witness. It went something like this...

Fell pulled up his trousers like they were socks, trundled in for the first ball and delivered an absolute pie. The batsman’s eyes lit up as bright as the sun and got brighter as the ball slowly made it’s way to his blade, sitting up like an obedient schoolboy, waiting to be dispatched. Remarkably, no runs were scored off the delivery; the batsman had struck the ball with impressive might, but also astonishing accuracy at his own batting partner at the other end. The ball had thumped into the non-striker’s torso and was trickling back down the track towards the striker when it was retrieved by the bowler. Dot ball.

The second ball got the treatment too. The batsman had rocked onto the back foot and pulled a limp long-hop with impressive panache. A split-second later there was a yell from the square leg umpire. He had failed to use the nanosecond he had to remove his thigh from the path of the steaming cricket ball. The ball seemed to stick in the umpire for a moment before dropping to the floor like an apple from a tree. Cannily, Fell had placed a man on the single at square leg who proceeded to do the tidying.

This is where it began to get ridiculous. Delivery three was a knee high full toss. It was absolutely pulverized by the batsman, by now the very picture of frustration... The fielder this time was Fell himself, who presumably had bravely turned his back on the ball to warn anyone on the boundary of the impending missile. The bowl rocketed into his kidneys. Fell more than flinched. Again, no run. What was going on here?!

The fourth ball was hardly a jaffer. It was, however, a lot more testing of the batsman. After an unusually early meeting with the ground, the ball rolled along the turf towards the batsman, who valiantly attempted not only to dig it out but also to beat the dubiously placed in-field with a swish of the blade toe. He connected surprisingly well, but unfortunately for him the ball was stopped again - this time intentionally - by the bowler, who simply stepped on the ball before letting out a grin at the batsman.

By this point the game was soundtracked by sporadic giggling, as the players’ usual solid concentration was broken by the farce they were witnessing.

Ball five was a short, wide one and timed to perfection by the batsman with an exquisite cut shot.

‘’Finally, reward’’, his team mates must have been thinking.

‘’Finally, punishment’’, mid-on shouted, but he was wrong. Point had pulled off the most majestic piece of fielding. Springing off his feet and out to his left, he stretched out a hand, into which the ball fizzed and somehow stuck. This sparked rapturous applause from fellow fielders, an unreasonably casual thumb up from Fell and a short, violent exclamation from the batsman. One ball to go.

‘’Join ‘em up Timmy!’’, called the wicketkeeper, causing the field and sprinkling of spectators around the ground to erupt into fits of laughter. Eventually the fielders pulled themselves together. This last delivery now seemed as significant as a hat-trick ball. Could this really end a maiden?! Tim pulled up his large trousers and traipsed in for the final time in this mad over.

I have never before or since seen a batsman launch himself into a delivery with such ferocity. Again the ball was hit straight; straight and past the bowler seemingly before he’d even finished his delivery stride. Surely, finally, runs?

The ball crashed into the umpire (the other umpire) with such velocity it seemed reasonable that he might explode. Yet another fluke obstruction! Perhaps sent mad by the idea that this over could possibly yield no runs for him, the striker initially called his partner through for what was a crazy single, but they soon abandoned the mission, allowing the striker to get back just in time to turn around and see Fell adopt the classic run-out threatening pose.

‘’Over bowled!’’ The umpire was laughing through the pain.

With the fielders, umpires and non-striking batsman crying tears of laughter and, in some cases, rolling around on the floor, the bowler, Mr Tim Fell nonchalantly chucked the ball away to no-one in particular, tugged his trousers up one last time and set off towards fine leg, looking back over his shoulder at his bewildered colleagues.

‘’That’s how you bowl a maiden’’, he boasted.


Written by Sean Troth, Feb '13.