Scorecard from Chester

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire Press Officer, 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE are three points clear at the top of the Minor Counties Cricket Association (MCCA) Championship Western Division table following a fine four-wicket win against Berkshire.

Needing 172 to win from 29 overs on the final afternoon of the three-day match at Chester Boughton Hall, Cheshire held their nerve to triumph with three balls to spare.

Skipper Andy Hall and wicketkeeper Matt Dawson guided their county over the winning line and helped them establish a welcome lead over second-placed Cornwall at the top of the Western Division standings.

"It was an excellent team performance," praised Cheshire team manager Sandy Scrimgeour. "There were some really good performances, especially from Chris Tipper and Rick Moore."

Hyde's Tipper hit a fine 82 on his Cheshire debut, while Oulton Park all-rounder Rick Moore weighed in with two half centuries and four wickets on his Championship debut for the county.

Having impressed in the MCCA Knockout Trophy, Moore was given his chance in the three-day game - and he didn't disappointed with innings of 61 and 50, as well as bowling returns of 2-23 and 2-49, both from 13 overs.

Tipper, meanwhile, contributed a fine 82 on his county debut, an innings which included 12 fours and one six as Cheshire replied with 402-8 declared to Berkshire's first innings total of 256 all out. Tom Lambert Berkshire's best bowler with 4-117.

Nathan Dumelow, another of Oulton Park's all-rounders, starred with a 5-96 return from 30 overs as Cheshire dismissed Berkshire - who won the toss and elected to bat - in 84.2 overs, having had them in trouble throughout at 128-5 and 196-7.

Berkshire lost their last three wickets for no runs, their top-scorer David Shilvock with 66. Moore, two wickets, Bowdon seamer Adam Syddall (1-66) and Chris Finegan (1-43) also claimed a wicket each.

In reply Tipper led the way with the willow, with Oulton Park's Ben Spendlove (81), Bramhall's Dawson (73), Moore (61) and Bramhall's Hall (39) all in the runs as they powered 146 runs ahead after the first innings stage of the match.

Moore and Tipper shared in a impressive 130 runs second-wicket stand, while Spendlove and Dawson put on 93 together for the seventh wicket as Cheshire took control.

Struggling at 53-4 overnight, Berkshire slumped to 55-5 and 78-6 and were in danger of getting beat by an innings.

But Craig Crowe hit a resilient 165 as the visitors recovered to post 317 all out from 93.3 overs.

At 152-7 Cheshire also had a chance to close out the match in style, but in the end had to settle to chase down 172 for victory.

Syddall was the pick of the Cheshire bowlers with 3-66 from 24.3 overs, with Finegan (2-57), Moore (2-49), Hyde's Daniel Berry (2-52) and Dumelow (1-80) all in the wickets.

Moore then led an exciting run-chase with 50 from 41 balls, with Spendlove (35), Chester Boughton Hall's Warren Goodwin (20) and Tipper (23) contributing with the bat as Cheshire won in a dramatic finish.

"That's a great win for us, especially after we were frustrated by the rain against Cornwall and could only get a draw," reflected Cheshire captain Hall.

"It's nice to be top of the table after two games, but there's still a long way to go and we'll be looking to improve on a few areas of our game. I was very pleased with the way the team performed."

Opening batsman Danny Leech, of Oulton Park, was unavailable for the match, while Hyde's Rob Wooley also missed out with Moore and Tipper handed the chance to shine.

Berkshire 1st innings: 256 all out, 84.2 overs (Shilvock 66, Dumelow 5-96, Moore 2-23)
FOW: 54, 68, 91, 122, 128, 151, 196, 256, 256, 256
Cheshire 1st innings: 402-8 dec, 89.4 overs (Tipper 82, Spendlove 81, Dawson 73, Moore 61, Hall 39, Lambert 4-117)
FOW: 36, 166, 166, 200, 261, 265, 358, 402
Berkshire 2nd innings: 317 all out, 93.3 overs (Crowe 165, Syddall 3-66, Finegan 2-57, Moore 2-49, Berry 2-52, Dumelow 1-80)
FOW: 16, 16, 49, 49, 55, 78, 152, 229, 299, 317
Cheshire 2nd innings: 172-6, 28.3 overs (Moore 50, Spendlove 35, Tipper 23, Goodwin 20)
FOW: 41, 81, 107, 138, 142, 159