By Neil Goulding
 
CHESHIRE skipper Andy Hall was understandably frustrated that his side were knocked out of the MCCA Knockout Cup on a bowl-out after heavy rain made sure there was no play against Berkshire at Cheadle Hulme in the pair's 2nd round clash.
Hall, the Minor Counties Under-25 representative captain, was forced to withdraw from the Cheshire team at the last minute having sustained a rib-injury.
But the Bramhall batsman still was quietly confident his team had an excellent chance of victory having already beaten Berkshire in the 3-day format of the game last month.
Berkshire triumphed 3-1 in a tense bowl at stumps in the Cheadle Hulme nets. Macclesfield seamer Jason Whittaker the only bowler to hit the stumps for the hosts.
"It's very frustrating because we would have like to have tried to get Lords to play in the final," admitted Hall, whose side would have played Hertfordshire or Wales in the quarter-finals if they had won.
"The MCCA Cup is a good chance to win something, so to have not even played and gone out is not a very nice feeling.
"That's cricket, but the bowl-out didn't go our way and now we will have to concentrate on our 3-day Championship matches.
"We know we can beat Berkshire, it would have just been nice if we could have played."
Oxton all-rounder Neil Cross stood in for Hall as skipper for the match, while former Nottingham pace bowler Dave Pennett was unavailable, so Jude Mahadanaarachchi, from Liverpool Competition side Huyton, was given the chance to make his debut.
Mahadanaarachchi starred for Cheshire 2nd XI last week in a fine victory over the Yorkshire Academy at Christleton.
 The Sri-Lankan batting ace smashed 85 in only his first game for the county and was looking forward to starring for the first team until the heavens opened and washed out play.
 "Jude's a player who I've played against and we know from previous experience," added Hall.
 "He used to play for the Wales Minor Counties team and he scored some useful runs. We've been looking at our middle order and we want to give people a chance to come in and score runs.
 "If Jude comes in and scores runs, then he'll be in the team. It's important we don't have mid-order collapses, so hopefully Jude will take his chance."
 Cheshire travel to Bournemouth's Dean Park ground on Sunday (until Tuesday 22 June) for their third Western Division clash this season in what promises to be an intriguing battle with Dorset.
 Hall's team beat Dorset in their opening match last season in a thrilling finish at Oxton.
 However, the county skipper is facing a battle against time to be fit for the match.
 "My ribs are quite sore," said Hall. "I just hurt myself while I was fielding, so I didn't play for my club side at the weekend.
"I've been told to rest by my doctor, but there's nothing else I can do. I can't strap my ribs up. I've been told that they will heal naturally. I'm just going to have to wait and then I'll make my decision then."
 
MCCA Knockout Cup - 2nd Rnd (Cheadle Hulme): Cheshire v Berkshire. Berkshire won 3-1 on a bowl-out.
 

By Neil Goulding

OXTON all-rounder Neil Cross will return to the Cheshire side looking to continue their good early season form with a victory against Berkshire in the 2nd Round of the MCCA Knockout Trophy at Cheadle Hulme Cricket Club on Sunday (20 June).

 
Cross, a useful off-spinner in one-day cricket, has been unavailable because of work commitments, but has been handed the chance to shine ahead of Alderley Edge's Dave Parkinson and Hyde's Martyn Knight, both of whom have been playing for Cheshire in the 3-day format.
 
Cross made a a couple of appearances last year, but injured his right hand in Cheshire's memorable win against Bedfordshire in the C&G Trophy at Wardown Park in Luton.
 
Mobberley batting prodigy Nafees Din will play his first game of the season having been absent because of exams.

Din, who averaged over 50 last term with the willow, is likely to bat at number four, with Cross a place below him in the batting line up.

"Neil's a very good cricketer and we're glad to have him back in the team," said Gerry Hardstaff, the Cheshire chairman.

"It's good to have Nafees back as well. He proved last year that he can score runs - and quickly."
Andy Hall's team have already beaten Berkshire this season, a rousing win in the Minor Counties Championship Western Division at Falklands Cricket Club in Newbury last month.

So it's no wonder the county skipper is brimming with confidence that his team can spring another victory against Julian Wood's team.

"Berkshire are a good side, but we played well in the MCCA Cup last season and I'm confident of our chances this year," said Hall.

"We found it tough going on the first day down in Newbury, but the players showed a lot of character to win that match. We can take a lot of heart from that performance."

Cheshire reached the quarter-finals of last year's competition, but came unstuck against Hertfordshire, possible opponents in the Last-8 if Hall's charges can progress.

Wales Minor Counties are also possible opponents for Cheshire, for an away tie scheduled for Sunday 4 July.

However, Hall is not 'counting his chickens' just yet, although he admits he would love to reach this year's showcase final at Lords on Monday 6 September.

"It would be nice to play at Lords again, I've got many happy memories playing there," added Hall.

"I won the National Club Knockout with Bramhall, so it would be very special to get back there.

"However, we can only think about the next game. Berkshire should have some good players back for this one-day game, so we know we will have to play well to beat them.

"They will want to get some revenge after we beat them in Newbury. It bodes for a good match."

Cheshire team from: Andy Hall (Bramhall), Danny Leech, Danny Jones, Jason Whittaker (Oulton Park), Nafees Din (Mobberley), Neil Cross (Oxton), Simon Renshaw (Kibworth), Dave Pennett, Alexis Twigg (Harrogate), Stephen Ogilby, Robin Fisher (Chester Boughton Hall), Barney Cutbill (Macclesfield). Scorer: Jack Hempstock.