Lee Dixon being awarded the Man Of The Match Trophy
by Peter Gill while David Bailey looks on

Cheshire triumph in inaugural T20 annual challenge

By Jim Law

Bailey Gill Challenge Trophy
Sunday 29 May 2017, Nantwich CC
Staffordshire CCC 198-6, Cheshire CCC 202-6.
Cheshire won by 4 wickets.

Lee Dixon's T20 Cheshire side once again triumphed as they won the inaugural T20 Bailey Gill Trophy in a bank holiday shoot out at Nantwich.

Dixon was at the helm of the T20 side two years ago that won the National Unicorns' prize and with there being currently no minor counties T20 cricket, this was an opportunity to revisit past triumphs and get one over a neighbour who had dramatically beaten them in last week's 50 over Trophy game.

The game was the brainchild of David Bailey (Chairman of Cheshire) and Peter Gill (President of Staffordshire). With the two counties rarely playing each other, it's an ideal opportunity to rekindle past challenges and play annually for a new trophy.

Staffordshire had earlier got the better of Cheshire in a hard fought Development XI game where Cheshire batted first and posted a total of 115 for 7 in their 20 overs. This total did not look to be enough to defend successfully but the Cheshire Academy XI, captained by Harry Killoran, stuck to their guns and Staffordshire, with five wickerts down, only reached the target in the last over with just two balls to spare.

The senior side then won the toss and batted in front of a large crowd at Nantwich.

220-230 was threatened at one stage as Kadeer Ali (25) and Sam Kelsall (31) rushed to 41 before Ollie Freckingham got the breakthrough. Pete Wilshaw - who scored a big hundred at the same ground last year - struck a fine 45 and there was 37 from Mike Hill.

Cheshire held their nerve well though as Dixon shuffled his attack effectively, Freckingham being the pick of the bowlers with 2-23.

198-6 fell a little short of expectations from the exciting early promise but still represented a competitive target.

Wayne White opened with Will Evans to start the Cheshire reply and after White had gone early, Evans moved into overdrive and was third out for 54 with the score on 73.

At 102-5, Cheshire had plenty of overs but it was all about wickets. Sensible batting from Dixon and the returning James Duffy pushed singles to set up the final charge led by a flamboyant Dixon, scoring seven 4s and four 6s in his 65. Pick of the Staffordshire bowlers was a miserly spell of 1-12 from Mike Hills' three overs.

"An enjoyable occasion and maybe a bit of payback for the defeat we suffered at Knypersley last week," said Dixon.

"It's always enjoyable to play in these types of games and it was a quality match. Good to see locals Ollie Griffiths and Luke Robinson in the side and give a debut to Iftikhar Naseer too."

Now it's a switch to three-day cricket as Cheshire travel to Brockhampton next weekend to take on Herefordshire in their first Unicorns Championship match of the season (Sun-Tues, 4-6 June).

Man of the match: Lee Dixon (Cheshire CCC)

Cheshire v Staffordshire Academy XI scorecard
Cheshire v Staffordshire First XI scorecard