CENTURION BENTLEY SPARKS CHESHIRE WIN
By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

Pictured: Oulton Park batsman Louis Bentley notched his maiden century for Cheshire against Cumberland on Sunday

CHESHIRE chased down a record Cumberland score and with a courageous victory kept their silverware hopes alive by progressing to the MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-finals at the weekend.

Oulton Park batsman Louis Bentley hit a brilliant maiden century for Cheshire as they successfully chased down a daunting 325 to win in just 50 overs away at Netherfield Cricket Club on Sunday.

Bentley, one of a group of promising young Cheshire players, starred with a fine 104 from 116 balls, an innings which bound together the visitors' batting card after the loss of early wickets.

And there were also important runs from Hyde's James Duffy (64), Oulton Park's Ben Spendlove (40) and Cheshire skipper Andy Hall who, unbeaten on 44 not out, guided his team to a famous victory with two balls to spare in a gripping finish to their last qualifying group match.

Official final group tables have yet to be confirmed, but it looks as though Cheshire have finished second in the group. Shropshire beat Staffordshire in their last match and are expected to be the group winners by virtue of a quicker net run rate.

As yet it is also unknown who Cheshire will play in the quarter-finals on Sunday 13th June, although the fixture is believed to be away and against the winners of Group 4, which will either be Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire or Suffolk. That group is also set to be decided by net run rate.

"It was just a great game of cricket," reflected Hall. "To chase down 325 to win a 50-over match was a great effort, it's not often you'll see that happen.

"I'm really pleased for Louis, he batted brilliantly, and for the team. It's been a great effort from all the players. We're all looking forward to the quarter-finals."

Cumberland batted first on a flat track and little trouble in stacking up the runs. Paul Johnson smashed a superb 143 from 142 balls, a new Cumberland record in the Knockout Trophy.

Johnson's innings bettered the previous highest score of 120 not out by David Pearson against Shropshire in 1999 at Whitchurch Cricket Club.

Wicketkeeper Ikramullah Sheikh contributed 61 from 68 balls and Jonathon Miles 38 as the hosts posted an imposing 324-7 from their allotted overs.

It was also Cumberland's highest-ever total in the Knockout Trophy, eclipsing the 293-4 achieved in that same match at Whitchurch.

The key partnership of the weekend's match was for the fourth wicket as, from 145-3, Johnson and Sheikh shared a stand of 163 runs to give Cumberland the perfect start.

Four wickets fell for just 12 runs at the death, but Cheshire knew they had to bat really well to qualify for the next stage.

Spinners Jonny Fawcett (2-63) and Nathan Dumelow (2-52) were the pick of Cheshire's bowlers, while Rick Moore and Adam Syddall both claimed a wicket each. Moore also had a run-out.

And they didn't have a great start when Lancashire 2nd XI batsman Chris Tipper was dismissed for a duck and then the visitors slumped to 52-3.

But an important fourth wicket partnership of 128 between Bentley and Duffy steadied the ship, before wicketkeeper Matt Dawson (27) and captain Hall shared an eight wicket stand of 58 to put Cheshire within touching distance of a famous win.

No 10 batsman Syddall (nine not out) hit two fours in a nerve-racking finale and he Hall scored the 15 runs they needed to get over the winning line with only two balls remaining in the final over. It was a breathtaking finish to a great match.

There were also cause for more celebration on the day when Duffy (Left), a mainstay of the Cheshire team over the past few seasons, was awarded his county cap.

A day earlier the hard-hitting left-hander smashed his third century (106) in just six games this season.


Cheshire team:
Chris Tipper (Northern)
Rick Moore (Oulton Park)
Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
Louis Bentley (Oulton Park)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park) - vice captain
James Duffy (Hyde) - wicketkeeper
Jonny Fawcett (Didsbury)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
Adam Syddall (Bowdon)
Matt Dawson (Bramhall) - wicketkeeper

12th man: James Hawley (Neston)
Scorer: Jim Law

TIPPER MAKES WELCOME RETURN FOR CHESHIRE

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

Pictured: Lancashire Academy batsman Chris Tipper makes a welcome return for Cheshire against Cumberland on Sunday

CHESHIRE have been boosted by the welcome return of promising Lancashire Academy youngster Chris Tipper for their final MCCA Knockout Trophy match away to Cumberland on Sunday (11am).

Tipper, who used to play for Hyde in the Cheshire County League, starred for Cheshire last season with the willow and averaged an impressive 70.33 in the Championship campaign.

Now playing for Northern in the Liverpool Competition Premier League, Tipper - who scored 422 runs last season for Cheshire in just six innings - is expected to make his debut for the county in the 50-over one-day Trophy competition with the county requiring a victory to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Tipper, 19, has been named in a strong 12-man Cheshire squad with opening batsman Warren Goodwin, from Chester Boughton Hall, unavailable because of work commitments.

Hyde all-rounder Daniel Berry is absent with a hand injury, while Alderley Edge all-rounder Jason Whittaker is unavailable for selection.

But Neston bowler James Hawley is also included in the squad, with the final XI set to be decided on the day of the match at Netherfield Cricket Club.

Cheshire beat Cumberland by 18 runs in their opening Trophy match last season when the two counties clashed at Netherfield.

"We played well in that match, we've got good memories of the way we performed when we last played Cumberland," reflected Cheshire skipper Andy Hall.

"It's a big boost for us to have Chris available, he's such a good young player. He proved last season how much of an exciting talent he is.

"He scored a lot of runs for us in the Championship - and at a really good rate as well. Hopefully we can get a few for us on Sunday, it's a game we have to win."

Cheshire have won two and lost one of their three group matches thus far, which has left Hall's side needing one more victory for a guaranteed quarter-final berth.

The winner of Staffordshire against Shropshire will be the other county who qualifies for the quarter-finals.

"It's exciting for everyone because it's gone down to the last round of games to see who will qualify," added Hall.

"We've got a couple of important players missing, but we've still got a very strong squad and Chris is a welcome addition.

"All the players are in good spirits after our win against Staffordshire, it's in our hands now to see if we can get through to the quarter-finals."

Cheshire 12-man squad:
Chris Tipper (Northern)
Rick Moore (Oulton Park)
Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
Louis Bentley (Oulton Park)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park) - vice captain
James Duffy (Hyde) - wicketkeeper
Jonny Fawcett (Didsbury)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
Adam Syddall (Bowdon)
Matt Dawson (Bramhall) - wicketkeeper
James Hawley (Neston)
Scorer: Jim Law