Cheshire MCCA champions as West beats East
Woods men triumphant in four day final
By Jim Law

MCCA Championship Final, Wisbech CC September 8th - 11th, 2013
Cheshire won by 129 runs
Cheshire 372-9 & 303-5 dec, Cambridgeshire 296 & 250

Rick Moore is
Man of the Match

Danny Woods is presented
with the Championship Shield

Jonny Kettle being
presented with his cap

Cheshire clinched the Minor Counties Championship for the fifth time, with a resounding 129 run win over Cambridgeshire to take the title for the first time since 2007.
It was just reward for Danny Woods' side who were unbeaten throughout their Championship season.
A first innings unbeaten 175 from Rick Moore put Cheshire in the driving seat and Johnny Kettle's second innings 143 set up a target of 380.
With the weather closing in, Scott Kirwin dived to take the wicket of Lewis Bruce at slip to ensure Cheshire went home with Minor Counties Cricket's most prized possession.

When the dust finally settles on the 2013 season, Danny Woods will look back with immense pride at a job well done.

It wasn't just the fact that Cheshire were unbeaten in the three day game or that they turned things round so dramatically after a disastrous KO Trophy campaign at the start of the season. More the overall camaraderie, the commitment, the togetherness and the aspirations of the whole squad.

And whilst Woods should rightly take much of the acclaim, it was the sound relationship fostered with James Duffy that worked so well.

Duffy was due to take charge of the side throughout the summer but new job commitments restricted him to just two three day appearances. That he scored a double century and 53 just underpinned his importance to the side.

And the way Woods and Duffy combined to ensure momentum was retained with Woods continuing to skipper the side on Duffy's return, spoke volumes for the relationship between the two.

Cheshire's case was clearly helped too by the fact that they relied on just 16 players throughout their season. Along with Duffy, the names of Calum Rowe, Chris Tipper, Ian Tait and Danny Cranmer can be added to those that triumphed at Wisbech. They can be justifiably proud that they played their part.

The campaign saw contributions from all across the seven games and it's all the more pleasing that the side all came from the Cheshire County League (bar Woods who has his roots there). Furthermore, nine of the players came through the Cheshire Youth system.

Woods was elated after the success, paying tribute to his side's great tenacity and willingness to succeed. He recognised Duffy's contribution in his after match speech and acknowledged the outstanding level of team spirit from his side.

'This is a great achievement,' he enthused. 'It's been a hugely enjoyable season and I've never played in a side that's worked so hard together and been so close knit. These occasions don't come round very often so everybody should look back with huge pride'.

Woods paid tribute to the contributions in the final of man of the match Rick Moore and centurion Johnny Kettle. 'They are both outstanding cricketers,' he said 'and it was a pleasure to present Johnny with his county cap before the last day's play. Johnny is a great example of somebody who has really worked hard over the years to get his rewards'.

The skipper also recognised the input over the years from the late Sandy Scrimgeour who would be 'proud as punch.'

The match against the Eastern Division Champions pretty much went to plan although the weather played an important part.

The MCCA final is played over four days to negate interruptions but the rules remain the same as the three day game.

Cheshire won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to bat first against a strong Cambridgeshire side led by the competitive Paul McMahon and including Darren Bicknell (ex-Surry and Nottinghamshire). With work commitments ruling out Duffy, Neston's Andy Clarke made his Cheshire debut.

The visitor's first innings total of 372-9 contained an outstanding unbeaten 175 from Rick Moore, hot on the heels of his 116 against Shropshire. It was a controlled, classy innings allowing others to bat round him and although the final total fell short of what at one time looked like being in the 400s, Cheshire were more than satisfied with 372-9. Khalid Sawas continued to impress with a fine 79 and Lee Dixon with 49.

Unsurprisingly it was Woods who took 5-75 in Cambridgeshire's reply of 296 - a total that looked like being far less until the middle and late order pushed on. Chris Thompson made 48 and Ben Howego 56 whilst a frustrating last wicket stand of 96 between Paul McMahon (40) and Sam Rippington (40*) frustrated Cheshire.

A first innings lead of 76 and bad weather wiping out most of the third day meant Cheshire had to score quickly to bowl Cambridgeshire out a second time.

Positive cricket led, and Woods eventually settled on 303-5, Kettle's 143 well supported by Warren Goodwin (54) and Dixon (45).

A tense last afternoon ensued with fine spells from Adam Sydall and Scott Kirwin leading the way. With Clarke in the side, Woods had the option of a third spinner and together with the impressive Jack Williams, Cheshire chipped away.

The light was fading, 40 minutes were left on the clock and rain was imminent. A couple of tough chances had gone down in the slips and the last two had added 46 when fittingly, Cheshire trooper and ex-Cambridgeshire man Syddall claimed the valuable last wicket to ensure Cheshire clinched the MCCA title for the fifth time.

The final words go to skipper Woods. 'What a great season,' he said. 'I'm proud of every one of them'.

Note that Woods finished the season as the leading Minor Counties wicket-taker, with 63 wickets in 2013 and 59 of them in the Championship, which is the second highest ever total for Cheshire. The highest Championship total is 61 wickets, in 1921, but taken in 10 matches compared to Woods' 7.

The full scorecard can be seen here.