CHESHIRE KEEP TITLE HOPES ALIVE WITH BERKSHIRE WIN
By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE celebrated a brilliant win over Berkshire today as they got their Western Division title defence back on track.

Ben Spendlove finished with 136, while Hyde all-rounder Dan Berry smashed 63 not out from just 51 balls as Cheshire, having resumed on 176-2, declared on 366-5 in their second innings from 72.2 overs.

 

Oulton Park youngster Jonny Kettle (pictured right) finished with a Cheshire best unbeaten 129 as the defending champions clinched a much-needed 76 runs victory at Finchampstead Cricket Club

That left Berkshire needing 341 runs for victory on the final afternoon of the match - but that target proved too much as Richard Logan impressed with a 5-85 return, while fellow seamer James Hawley and left-arm spinner Jonny Fawcett both claimed two wickets each.

Nathan Dumelow also claimed a scalp as Berkshire lost wickets at regular intervals and their own title challenge took a unwanted knock.

And with victory Cheshire picked up 22 points and Berkshire just six as the gap at the top the table closed.

Stephen Wheeler was the pick of the Berkshire bowlers with three wickets, which took him to a seven-wicket haul in the match after his 4-41 return in the first innings.

But Spendlove and Kettle shared in second wicket partnership of 209 to lay the platform for victory.

Spendlove's innings lasted 139 balls and included one six and 20 fours, while Kettle, drafted into the side in the absence of Warren Goodwin, starred with a patient knock which lasted 217 balls and included 12 fours.

"That's a great win for us," praised Hall. "We've always tried to win this game and fair play to Berkshire, they went for the runs because they want to win this Division as well.

"But we bowled really well to bowl them out, especially on a really flat pitch. Both sides didn't get bowled out in their first innings, and then us in the second innings, so it just showed how well we bowled.

"There's two games left now, so we're really back in the hunt. Losing to Dorset was pretty hard to swallow, but if we can win our last two games then we'll stand a really good chance of defending there title."

Carl Crowe top-scored for Berkshire with 55, while skipper Bjorn Mordt (39) and Steve Naylor (48 not out) were also in the runs as the hosts rallied.

But despite a valiant fifth wicket partnership of 88 between Crowe and Naylor, Berkshire fell quite a way short.

Scorecard - Cheshire won the toss and batted

Cheshire 354-6 declared, 88 overs (Duffy 172, Hall 111 not out, Dixon 29, Wheeler 4-41)

Berkshire 390-6, 90 overs (McLean 182, Hodnett 70 not out, Morat 66, Dumelow 3-129, Logan 2-117, Berry 1-33)

Cheshire 366-5 declared, 72.2 overs (Spendlove 136, Kettle 129 not out, Berry 63 not out, Wheeler 1-93

Berkshire 254 all out, 66.4 overs (Crowe 54, Roberts 49, Naylor 48 not out, Logan 5-85, Hawley 2-80, Fawcett 2-34)

Result: Cheshire won by 76 runs. Cheshire 22 pts, Berkshire 6pts

CENTURION SPENDLOVE GIVES CHESHIRE HOPE

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

Pictured: Oulton Park batsman Ben Spendlove impressed with a fine unbeaten 105 as Cheshire pushed for a victory

BEN Spendlove weighed in with a timely century, his first for the Championship season, as Cheshire tried to push for a much-needed victory away to Berkshire on the second day of the pair's Western Division clash.

The Oulton Park ace sparkled with an unbeaten 105 as Cheshire finished on 176-2 at the close of play having earlier seen Berkshire establish a 36 runs lead with 390-6 from their allotted 90 first innings overs.

And having been 0-2 in reply, Cheshire did extremely well to battle back to lead by 140 runs with one day remaining at Finchampstead Cricket Club.

Spendlove, who has struggled for form this season, led the way with his 126 balls' innings, one which included one six and 14 fours.

And there were runs for Oulton Park teammate Jonny Kettle as he finished unbeaten on 62 as the pair shared in a patient stand of 176 to leave an intriguing final day's play.

"It was a great knock from Ben and from Jonny as well, we needed that after we lost both of those early wickets," reflected Cheshire skipper Andy Hall.

"We want to win this game so hopefully we can give Berkshire a total to chase on the last day and they'll go for it.

"It's really important we try and get a result, if we don't beat Berkshire then I think it's going to be really hard for us to retain our title."

Having resumed on 68-2, Berkshire batted solidly and batted their 90 overs allocation to edge ahead after first innings.

Jonathan McLean did the damage with the bat, his brilliant 182 from 238 balls laid the platform for a slight advantage.

There were 23 fours for McLean, while Kyle Hodnett hit a quickfire unbeaten 70 from 74 balls and skipper Bjorn Mordt contributed 66 as Berkshire avoided any slip-ups and denied Cheshire any sort of advantage.

Off-spinner Nathan Dumelow was the pick of the Cheshire bowlers with a 3-129 return from 31 overs, while seamer Richard Logan (2-17) and Dan Berry (1-33) were also amongst the wickets.

And in reply Cheshire had a terrible start to their second innings when Matt Dawson was dismissed with the third ball of the day and first innings centurion James Duffy was bowled with the last ball of the first over.

Thankfully Spendlove and Kettle dug in to give Cheshire a fighting chance of winning the match. Kettle's patient knock came off 133 balls and included seven fours.

"There's still hope we can win the match, but it all depends on whether Berkshire want to chase a total," added Hall.

"They might be happy to settle for a draw because they are top of the table, but they might go for a win because a draw would allow some of the other teams to catch them up."

Scorecard (Day 2 of 3)

Cheshire 354-6 declared, 88 overs (Duffy 172, Hall 111 not out, Dixon 29, Wheeler 4-41)

Berkshire 390-6, 90 overs (McLean 182, Hodnett 70 not out, Morat 66, Dumelow 3-129, Logan 2-117, Berry 1-33)

Cheshire 176-2, 44 overs (Spendlove 105 not out, Jonny Kettle 62 not out)

DUFFY AND HALL SPARKLE FOR CHESHIRE
by Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

Hyde batsman James Duffy impressed with a brilliant 172 against Berkshire

JAMES Duffy and Andy Hall starred for Cheshire as they made an encouraging start on the first day of their three-day MCCA Championship clash with Berkshire at Finchampstead Cricket Club (18-20).

Duffy dazzled with a brilliant Cheshire best 172, while Hall finished unbeaten on 111 as the defending Western Division champions recovered from 25-3 and 77-4 to post a challenging 354-6 declared from 88 overs in their first innings.

Lee Dixon chipped in with 29 as he and Duffy shared in a fourth wicket partnership of 52 after the early loss of openers Matt Dawson and Johnny Kettle, as well as Ben Spendlove, trapped lbw without scoring.

And so it was Duffy and Hall who deservedly took the plaudits after a good day at the office which saw them both bag centuries. The pair shared in a fine fifth wicket stand of 261, just 11 runs short of a Cheshire best partnership for the fifth wicket.

In reply Berkshire, having lost a wicket with only the fifth ball of the day, finished on 68-2 from 20 overs. All-rounder Richard Logan claimed both scalps.

"We'd have taken 350-odd at the end of the day, especially after we lost those three early wickets," reflected Cheshire skipper Hall, back in the side after injury.

"After losing at Dorset we really want to win this game. If we don't then I don't think we've got any chance of winning the division.

"Berkshire are top and even if we do beat them they'd still be top probably with bonus points, but we need a win to make sure we've got a chance in our last two games.

"It's such a close division you can't really afford many slip-ups - and after losing to Dorset we know we've got a lot to do now if we are going to defend our title."

And Hall was delighted for teammate Duffy, a player he believes now has to step on and start making big scores on a regular basis.

"Duffers batted really well, it was a really good knock from him," added Hall. "We want him to be doing that on a regular basis because we know he's good enough.

"He's played for a few years now and he's one of the senior players, but he's maybe not got the big scores we want him to in this format of the game.

"It was a mature knock and we both enjoyed batting with each other. It's a shame we didn't get that [fifth-wicket] record, but we'd have taken any partnership after the way we started."

Duffy's innings lasted 231 balls before he hit-wicket and included 28 fours, while Hall's knock came off 185 balls and included one six and six fours.

"We've posted a good total and hopefully now we can get a few early wickets tomorrow and make sure get a decent lead.

"But it's decent batting track so we know it's going to be really hard, but that's the challenge. We declared early because we might need those extra overs if we're going to win this match."

Earlier, Oulton Park batsman Kettle was drafted into the side with regular opener Warren Goodwin selected to represent Lancashire 2nd XI team, while Hyde bowler Rob Woolley was selected to play for the British Universities. That left an opening for Neston bowler James Hawley get some welcome county bowling under his belt.

Scorecard (Day 1 of 3)

Cheshire 354-6 declared, 88 overs (Duffy 172, Hall 111 not out, Dixon 29, Wheeler 4-41)

Berkshire 68-2, 20 overs (Logan 2-36)

Cheshire team:

Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Jonathon Kettle (Oulton Park)
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
James Duffy (Hyde)
Lee Dixon (Oxton)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park)
Matt Dawson (Bramhall) - wicketkeeper
Dan Berry (Hyde)
Jonathan Fawcett (Didsbury)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
James Hawley (Hyde)
12th Pat Roberts (Toft)
Scorer: Janet Herbert

SKIPPER HALL MAKES WELCOME CHESHIRE RETURN
by Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE captain Andy Hall (pictured) makes a welcome return to the county side at the halfway stage in the MCCA Championship season.

Hall was a notable absentee as Cheshire lost their first three-day match in nearly four years after defeat away to Dorset at Bournemouth earlier this month.

But Hall returns as the defending Western Division champions go in search of a much-needed win to get their title defence back on track.

Cheshire are away to leaders Berkshire in their next match, which runs 18-20 July at Finchampstead Cricket Club.

And the skipper is keen to help his side impress having slipped sixth in the table, 20 points behind Berkshire, who are unbeaten so far.

"It's big game for us, there's no doubt about that," revealed Hall.

"It is only the halfway point in the season, but we can't afford to lose another game, otherwise we'll struggle to win the division.

"We've had a great winning record in this competition, but it had to come to an end sometime. It's how we bounce back from this which matters.

"It's good we're playing Berkshire now because we know if we beat them we can really close the gap at the top.

"We have to hope other results go our way, but we'll be concentrating on own performance and be trying to get back to winning ways."

Hyde bowler Rob Wooley also returns to Cheshire's 12-man squad, with Hyde batsman Chris Tipper unavailable and Macclesfield's Ian Tait, who was 12th man against Dorset, not selected this time around.

Oulton Park all-rounder Rick Moore was unavailable for the Berkshire match, while Bowdon seam bowler Adam Syddall remains sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered earlier this season.

"Berkshire are a strong county - and they've not lost, so we know it's going to be a tough game," added Hall.

"But we're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can perform better than we did against Dorset."

Cheshire team:

Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Warren Goodwin (Chester Boughton Hall)
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
James Duffy (Hyde)
Lee Dixon (Oxton)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park)
Matt Dawson (Bramhall) - wicketkeeper
Dan Berry (Hyde)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
Jonathan Fawcett (Didsbury)
Rob Woolley (Hyde)
James Hawley (Neston)

12th Pat Roberts (Toft)
Scorer: Janet Herbert