It was disappointment and anti-climax for Ian Cockbain as his last Championship match for Cheshire, the final of the Minor Counties Championship, was put to sleep as Cheshire were set to make a mammoth 350 at around 7 per over by Lincolnshire's over- cautious declaration. Many in the disillusioned crowd, who had turned up in anticipation of watching a climax fitting to Cheshire's positive cricket throughout the summer, could only conclude that Lincolnshire were more interested in not losing than in winning, as a drawn match meant that they shared the Championship.
Perhaps mercifully, large black clouds rolled up which gave the umpires the opportunity to offer Cheshire the light and the match was called off with Cheshire 99 for 2.
It could be argued that in the first three innings only 16 wickets had been taken by bowlers while 940 runs had been scored and that Lincolnshire, therefore, were unlikely to bowl Cheshire out in the fourth innings. But who knows what might have happened if a more gettable target had been set? Many wonderful finishes have been created by Captains offering the opposition just the outside chance to win, but this didn't happen at Grantham.
This was a pity, as the marvellous Grantham batting wicket had allowed four players to score centuries and had reduced bowlers to understandable frustration. Lincolnshire won the toss and batted, scoring 254 for 9 in their 70 overs. Jason Harrison scored 110 and Roger Howitt 74. Robin Fisher had the best bowling figures of the match, 4 for 84 in 23 overs, as, having been 174 for 1, Lincolnshire's middle order lost the plot in their last 17 overs and gave Cheshire's outfielders catching practice.
Cheshire's first innings followed virtually the same pattern, with Mark Currie scoring a classy 70 and Andrew Hall a majestic 120. But Cheshire's middle order batted with more controlled aggression taking Cheshire to 295 for 6 with Ian Cockbain 26 not out.
Cheshire's lead of 41 looked decidedly useful as Charlie Lamb removed Harrison for 8 and Howitt for 4 with the score at 27 for 2~ but that was the end of the good news. Jonathan Thrower scored 149, Jeremy Clarke 53, and 47 year old Stephen Plumb 107 as Lincolnshire ground on and on to reach 391 for 5 at less than 4 an over showing no visible signs of urgency.
So the Minor Counties Championship for 2001 is shared, but Cheshire can celebrate with Andrew Hall, who despite spraining his ankle towards the end of his 120 innings, was adjudged the Man of the Match.