By Neil Goulding

CHESHIRE's opening Minor Counties Knockout Cup clash with Cumberland was abandoned today (Sunday) because of heavy rain.

Andy Hall's team batted first and posted a testing 204-9 in a match reduced to 35 overs per side.

The skipper led the way with 47 and fellow opener Danny Leech chipped in with 51 as the home side put on 96 for the first wicket at Grappenhall.

New signing Ben Spendlove then provided some lusty hitting with 40, which came off 35 balls and included five 4s and one giant six, as the home team gave Cumberland plenty to ponder.

But the heavens opened and despite twice going out to bat, Cumberland were forced to close their innings on 16-0, as the rain brought a halt to proceedings after just three overs.

"It's very frustrating because we wanted to start the season with a win, but there's not much you can do about the weather," admitted Hall, who guided the JW Lees-sponsored side to the Minor Counties Championship title last season.

"We started brightly and did well to score over 200 on a tough wicket. Myself and Danny set the platform and then Ben came in a scored some useful runs on his debut."

Hall and Leech gave Cheshire the perfect start with 96 for the first wicket, until Hall was dismissed three runs short of his half-century with the fourth ball of the 18th over.

The captain hit six 4s and one 6, while Leech faced 87 balls, hitting five 4s in his half-century.

Cheshire reached 139 until their second wicket fell, before a mini collapse left them in trouble mid-innings.

The county lost their last seven wickets for 36 runs, five of which came at the expense of 14 runs.

However, Spendlove's bright knock made sure the home side toppled the 200-mark and Cumberland knew they were under pressure if they were going to force a victory.

"It looked like it was going to be an exciting match, but we've not lost and can approach our other matches with a lot of confidence," added Hall.

"It's a big season for us this year. We've under-achieved in the Knockout Cup before, so I want us to do well in this competition this season.

"There's no bigger incentive because if you get to the final you play at Lords. That would be a dream come true for most of the players."

Cheshire team): Andy Hall (capt), Matt Dawson (wkt kpr), Nick Cantello (Bramhall); Danny Leech, Nathan Dumelow, Ben Spendlove, Danny Jones (Oulton Park); James Duffy, Tom Young (Hyde; Jason Whittaker (Walshaw); Guy Emmett (Bowdon). 12th man: Danny Berry (Hyde). Scorer: Roger Strong (Hale Barns).

Cumberland team: M Sharp (capt), J Wisniewski (Lytham); D Barnes (Reading); D Clark, D Rooney, R Mason (Cleator); M Burns (wkt kpr), J Fielding (County Club); S Parry (Bootle); R Brown (Millom); P Lawson (Netherfield).


Cheshire won the toss and elected to bat. Match reduced to 35 overs per side because of rain.

Cheshire: 204-9, 35 overs (D Leech 51, A Hall 47, B Spendlove 40, P Lawson 3-50, J Fielding 2-33).

FOW: 96, 139, 168, 174, 174, 178, 182, 194, 199.

Cumberland: 16-0, 3 overs

Result: Match abandoned, 1pt each