Record-breakers Hall and Leech inspire Cheshire win (Day 3 Report)

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

ANDY Hall and Danny Leech rewrote the record books as Cheshire cruised to an impressive victory over defending Minor Counties champions Devon at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club yesterday.

Captain fantastic Hall (177) and opener Danny Leech (119) shared in a record-breaking second wicket stand of 287 as the home county triumphed in emphatic fashion in their first three-day match of the season, ending their opponent's eight-game unbeaten run which began last year.

Their combined efforts toppled the previous best second-wicket stand and best-ever Cheshire partnership of 277 by ten runs, recorded by John Hitchmough (177 not out) and former county skipper Ian Cockbain (117 not out) in 1980 against Wales at Neston Cricket Club.

Leech, who missed out on selection for some of Cheshire’s MCCA Knockout Trophy matches earlier this season, is no stranger to big partnerships.

Five years ago at Alderley Edge he made an unbeaten 152 for Cheshire in a 248 fourth-wicket partnership with Richard Hignett (183) against Cornwall at Alderley Edge Cricket Club.

Resuming on 4-1 overnight, Cheshire needed 291 for victory on the final day’s play having routed Devon for 118 in their second innings.

But few would have imagined the home county would have won in such commanding fashion.

Hall led from the front with three sixes and 23 fours in a superb 207 ball innings, while left-hander Leech hit one six and 18 fours in his excellent knock, which came off 213 balls.

The pair were at the crease for more than four hours to help Cheshire scoop 16 points for the victory and six bonus points.

Devon took eight bonus points for their efforts, but victory for Cheshire – winners of the Minor Counties crown last in 2005 – is the perfect start to their unbeaten season.

“We were up against it after Devon scored 405 in the first innings, but the lads dug in and I can’t praise them enough,” said Hall, whose side play Devon again in the Knockout Trophy semi-finals on Sunday 1st July, again at Chester Boughton Hall CC.

“Devon are one of the best Minor Counties sides around, they proved that last year by winning the Championship, but this day is about us. We’ve produced an excellent performance to win.

"It's great to break records, me and Danny both enjoyed it out there, but the most important thing for us was to win. That's a great start to the season and a good platform to build on."

Cheshire manager Sandy Scrimgeour praised: “It was a great team performance from the lads. To turn the match around like that takes some doing – I can’t praise them enough for their efforts.”

Cheshire take on Berkshire next at the Memorial Ground, Finchampstead Park between June 24-26, followed by their second meeting with Devon less than a week later.

Devon 1st innings: 405-9, 90 overs (C Mole 106, R Dawson 117, T Anning 40 not out, B Spendlove 2-36, C Finnegan 2-54, T Young 2-65, N Dumelow 2-100)
Cheshire 1st innings: 233 all out, 80.2 overs (J Duffy 72, M Dawson 55)
Devon 2nd innings: 118 all out (C Mole 62, A Syddall 6-39, C Finnegan 3-27)
Cheshire 2nd innings: 292-1, 70.5 overs (A Hall 162 not out, D Leech 119 not out)

Result: Cheshire won by nine wickets (Cheshire 22pts, Devon 8pts)

Syddall stars to keep Cheshire's victory hopes alive (Day 2 report - no Day 1 Report)

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)
ADAM Syddall was Cheshire's star as they gave themselves a fighting chance of victory against defending Minor Counties champions Devon with a day to play of their clash at Chester Boughton Hall.

The Bowdon seam bowler was in blistering form as Cheshire, Minor Counties champions themselves in 2005, recovered from a late first innings collapse, to set up an intriguing final day's play needing 287 runs for victory.

Having seen Devon post an imposing 405-9 from their allotted 90 overs having won the toss and batted first, Cheshire dug deep having been 58-2 overnight.

Hyde left-hander James Duffy (72) and Bramhall wicketkeeper Matthew Dawson (55) were in the runs, but despite going well Cheshire were dismissed for 233 in 80.2 overs.

But despite having hoped for more runs, the home county performed admirably with the ball, particularly Syddall, who earlier this season made his debut for the county.

The accurate left-armer finished with impressive figures of 6-39 - which included a memorable hat-trick - as Devon crumbled to 118 all out.

Chris Mole (62) was again the pick of Devon's batsmen having scored 106 in their first innings, but with Neston paceman Chris Finegan (3-27) also starring, Cheshire left themselves needing a strong batting performance for victory on the last day from a minimum of 85 overs, with a further 17 overs possible in the last hour of the day if a result looks likely.

"It was a great bowling performance from the lads, especially Adam and Chris," said Cheshire skipper Andy Hall.

"We should have got a lot more runs, but the way we bowled was excellent considering they had a good lead. Devon are one of the toughest teams to beat and we know a victory here would be the perfect start to the season."

Cheshire clash with Devon in the semi-finals of the MCCA Knockout Trophy at Chester on Sunday 1st July, but although would love to win that match, victory in the tree-day format - against the defending champions - would understandably mark as a great result.

"The game's wide open now," said Hall. "James and Matt batted well for us, but we fancy our chances of getting the runs on the last day with the batsmen we've got. We've got to apply ourselves, but there's every chance."

Left with one over to bat in the final five minutes of the second day's play, Cheshire lost nightwatchman Tom Young and closed on 4-1.

But Hall added: "It's going to take a really disciplined effort, but there's a lot at stake in this match. The players know what it would mean to beat Devon."

Devon 1st innings: 405-9, 90 overs (C Mole 106, R Dawson 117, T Anning 40 not out, B Spendlove 2-36, C Finnegan 2-54, T Young 2-65, N Dumelow 2-100)
Cheshire 1st innings: 233 all out, 80.2 overs (J Duffy 72, M Dawson 55)
Devon 2nd innings: 118 all out (C Mole 62, A Syddall 6-39, C Finnegan 3-27)
Cheshire 2nd innings: 4-1

Cheshire open Championship campaign at Chester

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

ANDY Hall is relishing the start of the new Minor Counties Championship three-day season, which begins on Sunday against Devon at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club (June 10-12).

The Cheshire captain has already seen his team qualify for the semi-finals of the Minor Counties Knockout Trophy having won three of their matches in Group A.

And having remained unbeaten in the one-day format Hall, who captained Cheshire to Minor Counties title two years ago, is understandably confident his team can made a winning start to this year's campaign.

"It's been a case of mission accomplished so far having got through to the semi-finals of the Knockout Trophy," said Hall, who top-scored with 65 as Cheshire beat Cumberland by five wickets at Barrow Cricket Club in their last group match on Sunday.

"But we've got to put the semi-final match on the back-burner and concentrate on starting the three-day season with a win.

"Devon have been probably been the most consistent Minor Counties side during the last five-ten years, so we know it's going to be tough.

"We've got six games in the Championship this season - and if we don't start well against Devon I think it could be really hard to win the Western Division.

"If we lose to Devon it's going to be hard work, but on the other hand, if we win we'll get a great boost for the rest of the season."

Cheshire also play Devon in the Knockout Trophy, again at Chester Boughton Hall, on Sunday 1st July.

But Hall isn't look too far ahead with selection problems hindering the county naming a full-strength side for Sunday.

All-rounder Jason Whittaker, David Fitzsimmons and Ismail Dawood are unlikely to play because of work commitments, with team manager Sandy Scrimgeour set to name his team later this week.

"It looks like we're going to be missing a few players, but we've got a strong squad this season, so it gives some of the players who have not had a chance yet to come in and stake a claim for a regular place," added Hall.

"We've played at Chester during the last few seasons, so hopefully we can find some form there again this year. It's a good wicket at Chester and it usually turns on the third day, so we'll be prepared."

Entrance is free for all three days of the match and on Sunday the club have organised a BBQ for spectators. Car parking is free and play starts at 11.00 each day.

Cheshire's 2007 fixtures:
MCCA Knockout Cup (Semi-finals) - July 1 v Devon (@ Chester Boughton Hall). Final to be played on Bank Holiday Monday 27th August @ Lords.

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.....