CHESHIRE KEEP LORDS DREAM ALIVE
By Neil Goulding
CHESHIRE tasted sweet success yesterday with their first victory of the season - and at the same time kept their ambitions of a dream final at Lords alive.
Andy Hall's team pinched a superb 12 runs victory over Herefordshire at New Brighton in the MCCA Knockout Cup and now must win their final group match against Northumberland, away at Tynemouth on Sunday (May 21).
Strong batting from Hyde's James Duffy (61) and Bramhall's Hall (56) and Nick Cantello (41) laid the platform for success as last year's Minor Counties champions set their opponents a testing target of 271 from their allotted 50 overs at Rake Lane.
Left-hander Duffy, who made his debut half-century against Shropshire last weekend, led the way with some fine stokeplay, until he was trapped lbw.
But Cantello and Hall held the Cheshire ship together, while some lusty hitting at the death made sure the home team had runs to play with.
And thanks to some smart fielding and tight bowling the J W Lees-sponsored Cheshire side got the victory they desperately needed and have now given themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the next round of this year's competition, where the eventual finalists will be handed the chance to play at Lords.
"We really needed to win after our defeat to Shropshire last week - and the players did the business," said a delighted Hall.
"270 was a big score, but I thought we could have probably done with a few more runs because it's a small ground.
"But we bowled and fielded very well and really gave Herefordshire nothing. It was a very solid team performance."
Having elected to bat first, Hall, who also guided his team to the Western Division title last season, saw Cheshire dig deep against some good bowling. Herefordshire skipper Chris Boroughs the pick of the visiting bowlers with figures of 4-51.
In reply, Herefordshire reached 75-1 from 18 overs, before heavy rain brought a halt to proceedings for over two hours.
Herefordshire were set a revised target of 184 from 34 overs, but despite 70 from former Yorkshire batsman Simon Kellett and 40 from Boroughs, Cheshire triumphed in a thrilling finish. Chester Boughton Hall's left-arm spinner Robin Fisher was the star bowler with 4-40 from 10 tight overs.
"It's good to get our first win on the board," said Cheshire team manager Sandy Scrimngeour.
"We can still qualify for the next round, but we must beat Northumberland to stand any chance."
Cheshire innings: 270-9, 50 overs (J Duffy 61, A Hall 56, N Cantello 41, C Boroughs 4-51).
Herefordshire innings: (Revised target 184) 172-7, 34 overs (S Kellett 70, C Boroughs 40, R Fisher 4-40).
Result: Cheshire (2pts) bt Herefordshire (0pts) by 12 runs
Cheshire team: Andy Hall (capt), Matt Dawson (wkt kpr), Barney Cutbill, Nick Cantello (Bramhall); Danny Leech, Ben Spendlove, Nathan Dumelow, (Oulton Park); James Duffy, Tom Young (Hyde); Kevin Waterhouse (Bollington); Robin Fisher (Chester Boughton Hall). 12th man: Chris Davies (Oxton). Scorer: Roger Strong (Hale Barns).
Remaining 2006/7 fixture schedule - MCCA Knocout Cup: v Northumberland (21 May @ Tynemouth). Minor Counties three-day Championship: v Berkshire (11-13 June @ Chester Boughton Hall), v Cornwall (25-27 June @ Cornwall), v Dorset (9-11 July @ Nantwich), v Herefordshire (23-25 July @ Alderley Edge), v Wales (6-8 August @ tbc) and v Shropshire (20-22 August @ Whitchurch).
CHESHIRE'S TRIO CHANGE
By Neil Goulding
CHESHIRE have made three changes to their side ahead of Sunday's MCCA Knockout Cup showdown with Herefordshire at New Brighton.
The injured Dave Pennett, Walshaw all-rounder Jason Whittaker and Nantwich's Chris Hampshire are all out, with Chester spinner Robin Fisher, Bollington's Kevin Waterhouse and Oulton Park pace ace Danny Jones recruited to the fray.
Waterhouse is set to make his debut for the J W Lees-sponsored Cheshire side but both Jones and Fisher have represented their county on numerous occasions.
"There's a few players injured and unavailable, so we've had to make a few changes," admitted Cheshire skipper Andy Hall.
"Danny and Robin have been key players for us, but it will be a good opportunity for Kevin to make a name for himself. He's a good player and I hope he fits into the side."
Indeed, and having lost their second MCCA Knockout Cup match against Shropshire, Hall knows his side need wins from both of their remaining games to qualify for the next stage.
"We didn't play too badly against Shropshire, but we didn't bowl well enough," Hall added.
"Herefordshire will be tough to be beat, but a victory would really give us something to play for in the last match against Northumberland next Sunday [May 21 @ Tynemouth]."
Key performers so far this season have been new signing Ben Spendlove, with the former Derbyshire ace averagain over 50 with the willow, while youngsters Danny Leech and James Duffy - both left-handed batsman - have made half centuries.
Skipper Hall contributed a useful 47 in his county's opening, rain-affected clash with Cumberland at Grappenhall.
"There's been some good performances and I'm sure we will build on them once the season is in full swing," said Hall.
"It would be nice to have a good run in the cup and see
if we can get to this year's final at Lords."
Cheshire team v Herefordshire (11am start): Andy Hall (capt), Matt Dawson (wkt kpr), Nick Cantello (Bramhall); Danny Leech, Ben Spendlove, Nathan Dumelow, Danny Jones (Oulton Park); James Duffy, Tom Young (Hyde); Kevin Waterhouse (Bollington); Robin Fisher (Chester Boughton Hall). 12th man: Chris Davies (Oxton). Scorer: Roger Strong (Hale Barns).
Remaining 2006/7 fixture schedule - MCCA Knocout Cup: v Herefordshire (14 May @ New Brighton) and v Northumberland (21 May @ Tynemouth). Minor Counties three-day Championship: v Berkshire (11-13 June @ Chester Boughton Hall), v Cornwall (25-27 June @ Cornwall), v Dorset (9-11 July @ Nantwich), v Herefordshire (23-25 July @ Alderley Edge), v Wales (6-8 August @ tbc) and v Shropshire (20-22 August @ Whitchurch).