New-look Cheshire win thriller by one run
By Derrick Hastings

Cheshire, under their new Captain, James Duffy, had four debutants in the squad for their first home match of the season at Christleton on Sunday, 6th May. (Standing, left to right: Ollie Law, Danny Woods, Danny Berry, Scott Kirwin, Jonny Fawcett, Calum Rowe and Lee Dixon. Seated, left to right: Mark Rowland, Adam Syddall, James Duffy(C), Khalid Sawas and Jonny Kettle.)

Cheshire was put into bat by Cumberland on a true and dry pitch but with still some moisture in the outfield due to heavy dew which had not quite dried out in the cold but sunny conditions. This was a big change to just a week ago when the pitch was waterlogged. Read the full report.

Initially, it looked as though the Cumberland Captain, Gary Pratt, had made the right choice when Cheshire lost both their openers when the score was on 24. Then Duffy was joined by Lee Dixon, the hard hitting Chester BH batsman, and they pushed the score along nicely until Dixon was caught at long off going for a big 6. Dixon’s 37 helped Cheshire to reach 121 for 3.

Duffy was then joined by debutant Khalid Sawas (pictured left), who plays for Macclesfield. Sawas started cautiously until he had got his eye in and then opened up, playing many attractive and inventive shots.

Duffy reached his ton off 101 balls in an innings which included four 4s and seven 6s. (The picture on the right shows Sawas on the right congratulating his Captain on his century) He was then caught when Cheshire’s score was on 231. Sawas was then joined at the crease by another debutant, Calum Rowe of Alderley Edge.

The two of them saw the innings out, with Sawas finishing on 119 off just 89 balls including eleven 4s and seven 6s and Rowe ending up on 18 in Cheshire’s total of 312.

The pick of the Cumberland bowlers was James Lowe, whose ten overs gave a return of 47-2.

Duffy had a different line up of bowlers to work with as the team had just two seam bowlers, Adam Syddall of Urmston and Scott Kirwin of Hyde, plus three spinners, Danny Woods of York, Jonny Fawcett of Didsbury (both Slow Left Armers) and Off-break bowler and debutant Mark Rowland of Chester BH.

The Captain used his bowlers in short spells to break up the rhythm of the bowling. Pratt was joined at the crease by Liam Livingstone when the Cumberland score was 136 for 3 and the two of them pushed the score along rapidly bringing the asking run rate dangerously low from Cheshire’s point of view.

However, when Livingstone was trapped LBW by Rowland for 62 off just 45 balls, the scoring rate dropped slightly although an asking rate of 10 an over was achieved for the last ten overs of the innings.

The last over had Cumberland looking for 10 runs to win the match but Duffy had kept the very experienced and reliable Syddall to bowl it. In a nail-biting finish, Cumberland only managed 8 runs, leaving Cheshire the victors by one run.

Rowland (64-2) and Woods (72-2) had the best figures for Cheshire but Syddall, although wicketless, was the most economical with just 52 runs coming off his 10 overs.

After the match, Duffy said, “I could have done with an easier game for my first match in charge and I would have been more relaxed if we had got them out for something closer to 150!”

“I was really pleased with the way that all the new players fitted into the team, although some of them were naturally nervous to start with. Khalid [Sawas] was magnificent, particularly in view of the fact that he picked up a slight groin strain during the match, and Scott [Kirwin] bowled as though he had been a member of the team for some while.”

“Calum [Rowe] who had originally been in as twelfth man, stood in at the last minute when Chris Tipper was injured and slotted right in,” he added. “I am very grateful to Ollie Law for standing in as twelfth man at short notice, particularly as Khalid was unable to take the field in the Cumberland innings.”

“Our fielding was outstanding, which helped on such a high scoring pitch and I cannot praise the ground staff at Christleton too highly for producing such a great, hard wicket after all the rain there had been in the run-up to the game.”

“I was pleased with our new bowling attack of three spinners and two seamers and I can’t see any reason to make changes to the team unless anybody has to cry off with injury.”