Cheshire win by 183 runs at Nantwich
By Derrick Hastings

Cheshire v Berkshire at Nantwich, 5, 6, 7 August, 2012
Toss: Cheshire who elected to Bat
Cheshire 264 and 321; Berkshire 244 and 158
Cheshire won by 183 runs
Cheshire 22 points – Berkshire 6 points

With heavy rain falling all around the ground, including flooding as close as Chester, it was fortunate that the few sprinklings of rain that fell during the three days did not seriously impede play and a full match was possible.

Cheshire won the toss and elected to bat on a typically well-behaved Nantwich wicket. A steady start saw Warren Goodwin and Jonny Kettle put on 40 before Kettle was caught behind for 17. The wickets of Tom Twiney (6) and Goodwin (40) fell quickly leaving Cheshire on 69 for 3.

Captain James Duffy joined Khalid Sawas at the crease and this pair put on 106 runs for the fourth wicket before Duffy was bowled for 54, including 8 fours, with Cheshire on 175. Lee Dixon was the next batsman, making 14 runs before both he and Sawas (63, including 12 fours) were caught off the bowling of spinner Gurveer Singh in the same over with the score on 205. Ross Dixon (39, including 6 fours) and Danny Berry (18) pushed the score on to 264 before Berry was Singh’s third victim. The last three Cheshire wickets fell without any addition to the score.

The pick of the Berkshire bowlers were Singh (8.2 – 2 – 24 – 4) and Captain Bjorn Mordt (17 – 5 – 53 – 3)

Berkshire made a fairly slow start, putting on 58 runs before Adam Syddall trapped Matthew Jones LBW for 21. Four runs later, Ian Tate bowled the other opener, David Barnes (40) and claimed the first of his five wickets. Tait’s second wicket came when Berkshire were on 112, after which Danny Woods got in on the action, claiming the scalp of the Berkshire Captain with the score on 154 for 4.

Goodwin was unfortunately indisposed after lunch and the Twelfth Man, Calum Rowe, took the field for the rest of the day.

Second day

Berkshire reached 167 before Tait took three wickets in one over to leave them reeling. An eighth wicket partnership of 51 took Berkshire to a respectable 219 for 8 but the last two wickets, including a sharp caught and bowled by Woods, only added 25 runs before the innings closed on 244.

Tait finished with figures of 26 – 3 – 107 – 5 and Woods were 15.5 – 3 – 53 – 4.

Fortunately, Goodwin had recovered sufficiently to field on the second day, which meant that he was able to open the batting with Kettle in Cheshire’s second innings, although he only managed to score 10 before being trapped LBW with Cheshire on 11. The next two wickets were both LBW decisions and Cheshire found themselves on 64 for 3 before Duffy joined Sawas to add 108 for the fourth wicket. Duffy’s stylish 67 included 11 fours and 1 six.

Lee Dixon started his innings in a circumspect fashion before opening his shoulders and reaching his 50 in 49 balls. He finished with 55 runs which included 6 sixes in a partnership of 80 which took Cheshire to 252 for 5.

Berry (11) helped Sawas to add 45 for the sixth wicket. Sawas was caught behind just before play was abandoned for the day because of bad light, making a fine 116, which included 14 fours and 2 sixes. This was all the more remarkable since he had been playing the match with a suspected broken finger sustained in a League game on the Saturday.

Third Day

Cheshire resumed their innings with the score on 306 for 7 after an early morning rain shower threatened to delay the start. Fortunately, only seven minutes were lost before play could begin. The last three wickets fell cheaply and Cheshire finished with 321, leaving Berkshire an intriguing target of 342 to win at a rate of roughly 3.5 per over.

Tom Nugent was the pick of the Berkshire bowlers with figures of 13 – 6 – 45 – 3.

The Berkshire openers added 74 runs at the required run rate before Barnes was LBW to Syddall for 45 and the second wicket partnership took Berkshire through to 105 for 1 at lunch, leaving the game in an interesting position with Cheshire possibly having the edge.

After lunch, Ross Dixon’s off-break bowling was brought into play alongside Woods’ slow left arm attack and suddenly everything changed. The second and third wickets fell with the score on 107 and the fourth went when Berkshire had 135. There then followed a remarkable clatter of wickets with five falling with the addition of only one run and the last wicket fell eight runs later.

Berkshire’s innings ended on 158 and the last seven wickets had fallen in 13 overs, with Kettle taking three stumpings. Ross Dixon’s figures were 13 – 4 – 29 – 2 and Danny Woods had an even more remarkable 14.2 – 6 – 27 – 7, giving him 11 wickets in the match.

James Duffy said, “That was a remarkable performance all round. I was sure that we were in with a chance when we set them over 300 as a target, but I did not expect such a spectacular collapse.”

“Khalid’s two innings [63 and 116] were excellent and the fact that it was doubtful that he would be able to play because of his injured finger make them even more praiseworthy. Ian [Tait] proved once again how valuable he is to Cheshire and a worthy opening bowler alongside Syds. What can I say about Danny [Woods]? His bowling this year has been outstanding and his eleven wickets in this match just helps to underline how good he is. Watching him and Ross [Dixon] mesmerise the Berkshire batsmen in the last session was wonderful. Ross has more than justified his selection in the team.”

“Nantwich produced an excellent track with something in it both for batters and bowlers and provided the opportunity to use spinners on the second and third days – a perfect Championship wicket. I would also like to thank all the members of the Nantwich club for their excellent facilities and food. It is always a pleasure to play here,” he added