By Neil Goulding
CHESHIRE believe they might just have found the ideal opening
partnership following the arrival of former Cumberland ace Alexis
Twigg, who plays for Harrogate in the Yorkshire E.C.B. Premier League, made a splendid start to his Cheshire career with scores of 40 and 43 not out on his debut against Herefordshire at Chester Boughton Hall.
And for Cheshire chairman Gerry Hardstaff, Twigg is the perfect attacking foil for the team's other opener, Danny Leech, the promising Oulton Park left-hander.
Leech has spent most of this season opening the innings with skipper Andy Hall, and to their credit, both players have done a good job for their county.
However, Hall has admitted he prefers to bat lower down in the order and that has presented a slot for Twigg to come in and show what he is capable of.
"Alexis is a very good player," said Hardstaff. "He has come to us on a very good recommendation from Dave Pennett, also from Harrogate, and, on the way he performed against Herefordshire, he showed he is a very solid and compact player.
"Andrew [Hall] prefers to bat down the order, so it suits the team that Alexis is opening the batting. We wish every success."
A view shared by Hall, who has welcomed the arrival of Twigg into the Cheshire fold.
"Alexis had a good debut," said Hall. "He showed he could bat on a difficult track and got some good scores. I think we have got a nice balance in the side now and I do prefer to bat lower down, rather than open, so it should hopefully work well."
Indeed, Cheshire will be looking for Twigg to find his form in the remaining two Minor Counties Championship Western Division matches this term, away to Wales MC at Abergavenny (August 3-5), followed by a visit to Whitchurch, where the championship title might be concluded against Shropshire.
But, although Twigg has made an easy transition into the county fold, it was far from easy to hold down a regular place with Cumberland because of work commitments
"I played the last three games for Cumberland last year and did well," said Twigg, "but because of work I missed a lot of games at the start of the year and I lost my openers position. Cumberland gave me a chance to open the batting this year, but I just wasn't available. There's another local lad come in and filled the position, but I just want to play Minor Counties cricket, so I'm looking forward to playing for Cheshire.
"The lads have really helped me settle in and I was pleased with the way I performed on my debut."
And Twigg has every right to be pleased with the way he performed against an opening attacker which included former England bowler Martin McCague and former Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire ace Kevin Cooper, who took an impressive 52 wickets last term, to head the Minor Counties bowling charts.
"They [Herefordshire] have a great attack and it wasn't easy to bat because it was a wet wicket, which made it difficult," added Twigg, "but I'm an attacking batsman and I like to play my shots. I was disappointed the last day was rained off because I felt I was batting well, I was 43 not out, but hopefully I can just score as many runs as I can in the remainder of the season.
"Ideally it would be good if we can beat Wales and then see where we stand going into the last game of the season against Shropshire. We've got a very strong team and I'm really looking forward to getting to know the lads."
Twigg spent his first Cheshire experience cooped up in a hotel every night because the players go home because of the home fixture.
But the ambitious 25-year-old is not short of confidence and relishing the opportunity to establish himself in a very strong side.
"I should get to know the boys a little better in Wales," said Twigg. "I want to play the highest standard of cricket I can and I know I have a good chance to do that with Cheshire. I'm really looking forward to it because it's a great standard of cricket."
Twigg started playing cricket whilst at Repton Boarding School in Derbyshire and then developed his game at York Cricket Club where he played between the ages of 16-18.
That was followed by three-year spell playing in Sheffield whilst at Sheffield University, and ultimately where the a move to Harrogate where his game as blossomed. That's where Pennett and he recommended the young star to the Cheshire set-up.
"Gerry Hardstaff rang me and asked me to play and I said yes straight away," added Twigg. "I hope I can do a good job opening the innings for Cheshire. Myself and Danny Leech have already got a good understanding, which is important. He is a good, solid batsman, so I think we can do well together and give the side a strong base."
Cheshire play Shropshire in the last Minor Counties Championship match from August 17-19 at Whitchurch, followed by Bedfordshire in the First Round of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy on Thursday 28th August.