Cheshire draw against Wales MC at Usk
By Derrick Hastings

Wales MC v Cheshire at Usk, 24, 25, 26 June, 2012
Toss:- Wales MC who elected to Bat Wales 202 and 273 – 5 (Decl); Cheshire 174 and 222 - 6
Match Drawn
Wales 9 points – Cheshire 8 points

First day

Heavy rain overnight on the Saturday left the outfield extremely wet and there were further wet patches on the square beside the wicket to be used in this match. As a result of this, play was unable to start until 4:00 pm

Before play eventually got underway, there was a minute’s silence in memory of Tom Maynard who had been tragically killed and who had played for Wales MC before progressing to the First Class game.

Adam Syddall opened the bowling with Ian Tait and the two of them had the Wales batsmen struggling with Tait taking three and Syddall two wickets in their first spell, leaving Wales on 40 – 5 after 15 overs.

This good progress was halted by a sixth wicket stand of 104 between Aneurin Norman and Gregory Holmes which was only broken when Holmes was caught by Rick Moore (left), making a welcome return to the Cheshire side, off the bowling of Tait for 41. This took the Wales score to a much more respectable 144 – 6.

12 runs later, Norman was bowled by Danny Woods for 69, the highest score in the innings. The eighth wicket partnership between Darren Thomas and Nickolas Davies lasted until play closed at the later time of 7:30.

Second day

Play started half an hour earlier than scheduled on the Monday to help make up for the time lost on the first day and it stayed hot and dry all day, enabling a late finish to make up another half hour of lost time.

The eighth wicket partnership took Wales to 186 and the innings was soon over, when Tait (right) took his fifth wicket having Thomas caught by Jonny Fawcett for 37 with the score on 202. Tait ended up with figures of 21.4 – 7 – 49 – 5 and Syddall had 21 – 4 – 66 – 4.

Cheshire’s reply did not start well when Jonny Kettle was LBW to Harry Powell with only one run on the board. Moore, the other opener was then joined by the Captain, James Duffy, and they put on 26 runs before Moore was caught behind off the bowling of Norman for 10.

Duffy was then joined by Khalid Sawas who helped him put on 45 for the third wicket before being LBW to Scott Phillips for 13. Lee Dixon then joined his Captain, adding 31 runs in a partnership of 51 before being caught off the bowling of Phillips.

Calum Rowe then came to the crease after Danny Berry was out cheaply, but Duffy’s stylish innings of 69 came to an end with Cheshire on 129 – 6 when he was caught by Phillips off the bowling of Andrew Salter. His innings contained 12 fours. Rowe then provided a secure and hard fought innings to finish on 31* while the last four wickets fell with the batsmen all being bowled. Cheshire’s score of 174 meant that the team was one run short of a batting point.

The pick of the Welsh bowlers was Scott Phillips whose return was 13.3 – 4 – 40 – 5.

The Wales MC second innings started with three wickets falling for 37 runs before the opener Sean Griffiths was joined by Norman for a partnership of 142 only being broken shortly before close of play when Griffiths was caught by Moore off the bowling of Tait for 103, including 3 sixes and 14 fours, with the score on 179 – 4.

Third Day

Showers and drizzle meant that play on the third day was delayed from the planned early start of 10:30 with the loss of 28 overs.

Norman resumed with his partner, Dion Holden, and the pair played through to the close of the Wales innings when Norman was caught by Sawas off the bowling of Syddall for 103 including 1 six and 12 fours, leaving Holden on 37* and the innings declared on 273 – 5. Syddall took three of the wickets and Tait and Woods had one each.

With Cheshire needing 302 to win at nearly 6 an over, the second innings started well with a solid partnership between Kettle and Moore worth 49 runs before Moore fell LBW to Powell for 18. The Captain then joined Kettle and the pair scored steadily and quickly enough to make it look as though the target might be reached. Unfortunately Duffy was caught off the bowling of Powell for 48 leaving Cheshire on 141 for 2 and two balls later, Kettle was LBW to the same bowler with no runs added to the total. Kettle’s score of 72 included 8 fours.

Sawas provided much of the impetus in keeping the score ticking over, ending up with 53 off 56 balls. Dixon and Berry helped the Cheshire score along to 181 for 5 with Sawas scoring 30 of the 39 runs. Sawas was then joined by Rowe who played another thoughtful and studied innings, but the asking rate was becoming too much for Cheshire to have a realistic chance of winning the match.

When Sawas was bowled by Davies with the score on 210 – 6, Syddall joined Rowe at the crease and the pair of them successfully shut up shop to ensure the draw when play ended for the day at 6:30 pm.

The pick of the bowling for Wales was Powell with figures of 19 – 3 – 60 – 3.

After the match, James Duffy said, “The main difference between the two sides was the hundred partnership in Wales’ first innings. Had we managed a similar stand we would have had at least one batting point and possibly a reasonable first innings lead. This would have put a different complexion on things in the rest of the match.”

“I was pleased that Ian [Tait] got his well-deserved maiden five-for in the first innings as the two Welsh centurions did not flatter any of our bowlers in the second innings.”

“The really good thing that has come out of this game is that our batsmen have proved that they can go out and work hard for decent scores,” he added. “The inexperienced ones in particular will have learned a lot about the approach to three-day cricket, which is very different to the League cricket that they have been used to in the past.”