Cheshire beaten in Lord's Knockout Trophy final

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE’s impressive unbeaten run came to a disappointing end today (Monday) as they lost out to Suffolk in this year’s Minor Counties Championship Knockout Trophy final at Lord's.

The new Western Division champions fell 35 runs short chasing 220 for victory from 50 overs as their rivals won their first ever Knockout Trophy crown.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Dawson top scored with a gutsy cameo of 51 from 63 balls, while former Derbyshire batsman Ben Spendlove hit a battling 49 for Cheshire.

But the three-time winners struggled to keep up with an ever-increasing run-rate after the loss of three early wickets and were eventually bowled out for 184 having slumped to 26-3 and 95-6.

Needing 45 from the last four overs eventually proved too much for Andy Hall’s side as Suffolk, whom they shared the Minor Counties Championship title with in 2005, held on to grab a deserved victory.

Another Derbyshire player, Ben France, was the pick of Suffolk's bowlers with an impressive 4-36 return from just 5.4 overs, while paceman Martin Smith and Justin Bishop both took two wickets apiece.

“I thought we bowled very well, but we probably let Suffolk get a few more runs than we would have liked,” reflected Hall.

"219 was probably par for the course, but it was our batting which let us down. We needed someone to bat 35 overs and get 80-90 runs. If someone had done that I think we'd have won the match."

Hall paid a glowing tribute to Neston bowler Chris Finegan for an excellent performance in the field, as well as offering special praise to Dawson and Jason Whittaker for their battling seventh-wicket stand of 61 which gave Cheshire a glimmer of hope.

“Chris bowled superbly and had a great game in the field – and Nathan Dumelow was very economical. To get anywhere near their total was a great effort - and that was down to Daws(on) and Wish (Whittaker).

“I thought all our bowlers did well, but Paul Grayson batted excellently for them and held their innings together.”

Former England One-Day international Grayson, now first team coach at Essex, led the way with 87 for Suffolk, while all-rounder Chris Swallow weighed in with a useful 38.

Seamer Finegan starred with a 3-38 return, two catches and a run out for Cheshire to give himself a chance of scooping the man-of-the-match award.

But it was former first-class ace Grayson who scooped the honour for his patient innings from 102 balls and 1-20 return from seven tight overs of left-arm spinner.

“We’ve had a great season and we’ve got to look forward to the four-day Championship final against Northumberland, but it was just a shame we couldn’t win at Lords,” added Hall, whose side had Suffolk in trouble at 74-4 until a fifth wicket stand of 84 between Grayson and Swallow saw their opponents get back on track.

“We’re disappointed that we’ve lost, but we’ve still got the chance to win the Minor Counties Championship – and we’ll be trying our best to do that.

"Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes here and be stronger for our next final. Losing is never easy, but our middle order did brilliantly to get us close, because at 95-6 we looked out of the match."


Suffolk: 219 all out, 49.2 overs (P Grayson 87, C Swallow 38, B France 24, C Finegan 3-38, A Syddall 2-56, J Whittaker 2-35, Dumelow 1-36, D Woods 1-51)

FOW: 11, 40, 59, 74, 158, 159, 197, 204, 206, 219.

Cheshire: 184 all out, 47.4 overs (M Dawson 51, B Spendlove 49, J Whittaker 23, P King 1-20, B France 4-36, Bishop 2-31, M Smith 2-19, P Grayson 1-20).

FOW: 9, 18, 26, 84, 95, 95, 156, 180, 182, 184.

Result: Suffolk beat Cheshire by 25 runs. Man of the match: Paul Grayson (Suffolk)

Teams -
Cheshire: Andy Hall (captain), Danny Leech, Chris Bassano, Ben Spendlove, Nathan Dumelow, James Duffy, Jason Whittaker, Matthew Dawson (wicketkeeper), Adam Syddall, Chris Finegan, Danny Woods. 12th men: Chris Davis and Guy Emmett.

Suffolk: Phil Caley (captain), Tom Huggins, Ben France, Andrew Mawson, Paul Grayson, Chris Swallow, Chris Warn (wicketkeeper), Justin Bishop, Paul King, Martin Smith, Tobias Henbry. 12th man: Phil Edwards,

Cheshire looking to shine at Lord's

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE and Suffolk have both named strong 13-man squads ahead of Bank Holiday Monday's Minor Counties 50-over Knockout Trophy final at Lord's (11.00 am start).

Unbeaten all season, Cheshire clinched the Minor Counties Championship Western Division title on Tuesday after drawing their last three-day match of the season at home to fellow title-chasers Shropshire at Nantwich Cricket Club.

And with the return of former Derbyshire batsman Chris Bassano and ex-Yorkshire and Glamorgan batsman Ismail Dawood to their ranks, the county are gunning to keep their incredible treble title hopes alive.

Cheshire have won three Knockout Trophy titles since the competition's inauguration. They last won the competition in 1996 when Ian Cockbain was captain, guiding them to an impressive six-wicket win over Bedfordshire at Lords.

Prior to that a title came in 1987 under the captaincy of Neil O'Brien. That day Cheshire clinched victory by 36 runs over Bedfordshire at Macclesfield Cricket Club.

And in 1983 former skipper Arthur Sutton guided Cheshire to a famous eight-wicket win over Cambridgeshire at Christchurch Cricket Club in Oxfordshire.

"Everyone is looking forward to the match, it's a great occasion for the county," said current Cheshire county captain Andy Hall. "It's not very often you get the chance to play at Lord's, so we should enjoy the occasion."

But Hall, who starred for Bramhall at Lord's in 2001 when his club won the National Club Knockout Cup, is determined to make sure is ambitious players maintain their high standards to guarantee a second title.

"A few of the players have played at Lord's before, but playing at such a great venue will be great for everyone. It's just really important we don't let the occasion get to us and we go out and perform. At the end of the day when you're out there it's just another wicket and you should be concentrating on the bowler and not letting the occasion affect your performance," added Hall.

"We've had an amazing season up to now. Winning the Western Division makes me incredibly proud to be captain. It makes you think about netting in the winter and all the hard work that comes with achieving success. Long may our success continue."

And on the cusp of possibly re-writing the record books if they do win a hat-trick of titles, no wonder Hall is willing his team to keep their impressive winning run going until the end of the season.

The last and only county to win a title treble was Staffordshire, who achieved the magnificent feat in the 1991 and 1993 seasons respectively.

"We can't think about the treble right now, but if we win at Lords then it's time to start thinking about it. I hope it's going to be a great final. There's a lot of supporters coming down to watch us, so hopefully we can do them proud."

No fewer than six former first-class cricketers could feature in the match. Former Derbyshire trio Nathan Dumelow, Ben Spendlove and Bassano, as well as Dawood are in Cheshire's side, while Ben France, also formerly of Derbyshire, and current Essex first-team coach and ex-Yorkshire all-rounder Paul Grayson are in Suffolk's side.

Grayson played for the England International One-Day side during a distinguished first-class in which he scored 8,655 runs and took 136 wickets.

However, Suffolk will be without influential leg-spinning all-rounder Chris Schofield. The former England ace is back in the international fold with the 20/20 World Cup side and has also been starring for Surrey this season.

Schofield has played for Suffolk for two seasons and also played for Cheshire in 2005 when the two counties shared the Minor Counties Championship title.

Cheshire squad: Andy Hall (captain), Danny Leech, Chris Bassano, Ismail Dawood, Ben Spendlove, Nathan Dumelow, James Duffy, Jason Whittaker, Matthew Dawson (wicketkeeper), Adam Syddall, Chris Finegan, Danny Woods, Guy Emmett. 12th man: Chris Davis.

Suffolk squad: Phil Caley (captain), Tom Huggins, Ben France, Andrew Mawson, Paul Grayson, Chris Swallow, Chris Warn (wicketkeeper), Justin Bishop, Paul King, Phil Edwards, Martin Smith, Tobias Henbry, Nick Lee.