Dawood shines in the rain as Cheshire
make winning start

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

DEBUTANT Ismail Dawood inspired Cheshire to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Northumberland yesterday in their opening match in MCCA Knockout Cup.

The former Yorkshire batsman crashed a quickfire 45 to help ease the 2005-06 Minor Counties champions over the winning line in an overs-reduced clash at Grappenhall Cricket Club.

Now playing his cricket for promoted Urmston in The Right Move Abroad Cheshire County League ECB Premier Division, Dawood hit one six and seven fours in a 26-ball knock which saw the home side chase a rain-affected target of 75.

Northumberland batted first and posted a respectable 232-6 from 47 overs before rain resulted in an early lunch.

Resuming after a long break, Cheshire were set a revised winning target of 223 in 45 overs. As the rain continued to fall intermittently that target was changed twice more.

Firstly to 198 from 40 overs, before finally 75 from 15 overs. And, thanks to Dawood's brisk knock, Cheshire eased to victory with 4.2 overs to spare.

Nathan Dumelow and James Duffy were both unbeaten at the end to guide Cheshire safely home, although at 4-2 and 21-3 the county wobbled.

First debutant Dave Fitzsimmons, in as a late replacement for ex-Derbyshire batsman Ben Spendlove, fell for just one, before fellow opener Danny Leech also perished as the visitors got on top.

And although skipper Andy Hall also fell cheaply, Dawood and the rest of the top order made sure any upset was avoided in their first outing of the 2007-08 season.

"I thought we bowled and fielded very well, and then we survived a little bit of a scare to get the win," said a happy Hall.

"Beating Northumberland is a good start to the season. Ismail played really well and I thought our bowlers stuck at their tasks despite some good batting from Northumberland."

Opener Alan Worthey (85) top-scored for Northumberland, while partner Daniel Shurbern chipped in with a useful 40. Worthey and Simon Birtwhistle (52) then shared in a second-wicket stand of 103 to put the visitors in a healthy position.

But good bowling from off-spinner Dumelow (1-30) andl left-arm seamer Guy Emmett (1-34) restricted Northumberland from posting a bigger total.

Adam Syddall, another debutant, finished with respectable figures of 2-53 from nine overs, while all-rounder Jason Whittaker (1-45) and Tom Youngs (1-65) - a late replacement for spinner Danny Woods - also chipped in with wickets.

Victory for Cheshire brought them two points ahead of their second match, away to Herefordshire at Colwall Cricket Club on Sunday (13 May).

Northumberland: 232-6, 47 overs (A Worthey 85, S Birtwhistle 52, D Shurbern 40, A Syddall 2-53)
Cheshire (revised target of 75): 75-4, 10.4 overs (I Dawood 45, N Dumelow 15no)
Result: Cheshire won by six wickets. Cheshire 2pts, Nortumberland 0pts

Cheshire's 2007 fixtures:
MCCA Knockout Cup (Round-robin matches) - May 13 v Herefordshire @ Colwall; May 20 v Shropshire @ Christleton; June 3 v Cumberland @ Barrow.

MCCA Three-day Championship - June 10-12 v Devon @ Chester Boughton Hall; June 24-26 v Berkshire @ Finchampstead; July 8-10 v Dorset @ Dean Park; July 22-24 v Wiltshire @ Alderley Edge; August 5-7 v Oxfordshire @ Banbury; August 19-21 v Shropshire @ Nantwich.

Resource Bank Inter-County 20/20 Knockout - July 12 v Lashings, Shropshire and Staffordshire @ Wellington, Shropshire.