By Neil Goulding
CHESHIRE captain Andy Hall is relishing a new season in the Minor
Counties Championship Western Division and the MCCA Knockout Cup.
Now in his third term in charge of Cheshire, Hall believes the
county have been bubbling nicely in the past few seasons with
the emergence of some talented youngsters.
But now the former England schoolboy batsman is convinced the
time is right to push harder for honours in both the league and
"We've had a couple of decent seasons and ended up finishing
mid-table, so it would be nice to build on those seasons and finish
higher," said Hall.
"It would also be great to have a good run in the MCCA Cup
because we've never reached the semi-finals before."
Indeed. Cheshire were unlucky last year when they lost to Berkshire
at Cheadle Hulme in a quarter-final bowl-out, and the year before
suffered at the hands of former Surrey batsman David Ward, at
the same stage, as they went out to Hertfordshire.
"If you win three games in the MCCA Knockout you can be playing
at Lords, which would be great for all the players," added
"The main priority, though, is the Western Division. There's
no easy games, but it will be important to have a winning start
and get a couple of wins under our belts.
"A couple of victories would take the pressure of us and
I'm sure give the lads confidence going forward for the rest of
Cheshire open their account against Herefordshire, a county they
did not play last year.
And although Herefordshire finished bottom of the Western Division
last year, Hall is not taking anything for granted.
"Herefordshire have got some good players and they might
have strengthened over the winter, but we will have to play well
to win. There's no easy game at this level."
Cheshire have lost former Notts batsman Graeme Archer and ex-Hampshire
all-rounder Simon Renshaw this term, but replaced the duo with
Mark Currie, the former Lancashire batsman and ex-Derbyshire duo
Steve Selwood and Nathan Dumelow.
"It's a real shame we've lost Graeme and Simon, they have
both been good players for the county, but Mark Currie has proved
at Minor Counties level he can score runs and I'm sure the experience
he got at Lancashire was invaluable.
"Nathan and Steve have been highly-recommended, and with
Mark we've strengthened over the winter. We've also got some good
young players coming through who should get a chance as well."
Fast bowler Danny Jones, from the Lancashire Academy, and ex-Worcestershire
pace ace Jon Farrow are both tipped to feature this season, while
promising Hyde bowler Tom Young may also have a run in the team.
"It's great to see there a few youngsters to pick from. These
lads are the future of the county club and playing now will be
good experience for them."