CHESHIRE'S ROAD TO THE FINAL 2009 - by Neil Goulding
Having narrowly missed on the Western Division title in 2008 by
just one point, Cheshire were determined to make sure of a place
in this season's Championship final.
And skipper Andy Hall and his unbeaten side did exactly that after
a season to remember, one which saw them clinch the Western Division
title on the very last day of the season.
But the seeds for a successful campaign were sewn as early as
the first week in June when Hall's ambitious charges edged the
points 12-10 away to fellow title-favourites Cornwall.
Rain had the final say at Falmouth as both sides were denied the
chance of a victory with a premature finish, but Ben Spendlove
starred with a brilliant 148, while James Duffy (64), Nathan Dumelow
(59) and Hall (56) were also in the runs.
Off-spinner Dumelow also impressed with a match return of 5-142
from 40 overs, while left-arm pace ace Adam Syddall starred with
match figures of 7-122 from 32.5 overs.
And so on to Berkshire and the county's first home game of the
season which yielded an impressive four-wicket win.
Dumelow weighed in with an important 5-96 return from 30 overs,
while Chris Tipper (82), Spendlove (81), Matthew Dawson (73),
Rick Moore (61) and Hall (39) were on-song with the willow.
Moore then made 50 as Cheshire successfully chased for victory,
Hall and Dawson guided the team home.
Next up was a home clash with Herefordshire, but having dominated
the match at Nantwich, the points were shared 12-12 when rain
brought a premature end on the final day.
Tipper carried on his sparkling form with a brilliant 219, with
Dawson (61 not out) and Warrne Goodwin (48) both helping the hosts
amass a daunting 454 in their first innings.
Herefordshire were bowled out for 327, some 127 runs behind as
Berry (4-53) and Dumelow (4-94) did the damage with the ball.
Spendlove (70) and Tipper (50), again in the runs, helped Cheshire
reach 201-5 - a lead of 328 - but the weather halted any chances
of a victory.
Cheshire's third back-to-back home game, this time against Dorset,
was washed out without a ball being bowled.
There was no play on any of three days at Alderley Edge Cricket
Club as the Moss Lane pitch was deemed unplayable. Both sides
were awarded six points after the visitors had won the toss and
chose to field.
Needing to win both of their last two matches to stand any chance
of winning the Western Division title, Cheshire showed they were
up to the challenge.
A comprehensive 356 runs victory away to Wales Minor Counties
at Abergavenny set up a mouth-watering finale to the season with
Cornwall and Oxfordshire also in the title hunt.
Duffy (99), Goodwin (56), Moore (44) and Berry (44 not out) were
in the runs as Cheshire batted first, before Dumelow (5-102) and
Jason Whittaker (3-46) made sure of a first innings lead of 110
At the second time of asking Dumelow (104), Spendlove (66), Hall
(53), Goodwin (47) and Tipper (46) gave Cheshire a commanding
lead, before Dumelow (4-20) and Whittaker (3-33) were in the wickets
against as Wales were routed for 110.
Cheshire knew they needed to win their last game of the season
away to Shropshire to give them the best possible hope of winning
And the county didn't disappoint at Whitchurch with a five-wicket
win chasing just 199 for victory in the last day.
Berry (3-99) and Adam Syddall (2-54) impressed with the ball,
before Spendlove (113) and Berry (50), this time with the bat,
saw Cheshire trail by just 20 runs after the first innings.
Syddall then was on fire with the ball, his Championship best
return of 8-83 from 23.4 overs swung the game.
The left-armer finished with match figures of 10-137 from 33.4
overs as Cheshire took control.
Spendlove (59), David Hurst (39), Dumelow (31 not out) and Dawson
(28) scored the runs as Cheshire made sure of victory - and with
it the Western Division title 12 points ahead of second-placed
Cornwall. Oxfordshire finished third with 85 points.