By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Press Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE suffered a surprise setback in their quest to qualify for this season's MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-finals after a comprehensive defeat to Northumberland at the weekend.

Confident of building on their fine nine-wicket win at home to Shropshire in their opening qualifying group match last Sunday, Cheshire went to Jesmond Cricket Club in high spirits.

But Andy Hall's side struggled to contain their hosts as they coasted to an emphatic 219-runs victory. Durham batsman Gary Scott did the damage with a breathtaking 186 from just 109 balls as the hosts posted a Minor Counties record 394-6 from 50 overs.

In reply Cheshire saw their innings prematurely close at 175-9 from 33 overs, with seamer Adam Syddall unable to bat with a badly-bruised hand.

It was Cheshire's heaviest defeat on record and leaves this year's qualifying group wide open with Staffordshire, comfortable winners at home to Cumberland, top of the table with successive victories.

Northumberland are second in the standings, but they have played a match more than Cheshire who, after their first defeat, are fourth in the table with two games to play.

It was a completely different story for Cheshire who beat Northumberland by an innings and four runs with almost two days to spare back in 2007 when they won the Championship title.

This time Northumberland were the dominate team as they won the toss and batted on a flat track.

Early wickets saw the hosts wobbling at 44-2, but Scott's incredible innings - which included 14 fours and 12 sixes - saw Northumberland boost their own quarter-final hopes.

Scott shared a 99 run fourth-wicket partnership with Philip Nicholson (35) and then a fifth wicket stand of 137 with Richard Waite (76 not out) as Northumberland scored at an impressive rate of 7.88 runs per over.

Syddall, Nathan Dumelow and Jason Whittaker all claimed a wicket each for Cheshire, but they were all expensive as Scott took no mercy on the visiting attack.

New signing Richard Logan was the pick of Cheshire's bowlers with a fine 3-43 return from ten overs, although the former Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Surrey all-rounder was a rare light on an otherwise dark day.

Logan also top-scored with 45 from 37 balls, his innings included 5 fours and three sixes. But Cheshire also faced a mountain to climb and lost wickets at regular intervals, their first six for just 95 runs.

Whittaker (23 not out) shared in a welcome 62-runs seventh-wicket stand with Logan, but victory was never really in Cheshire's sights.

"It's disappointing to have lost in that fashion, but fair play to their lad [Gary Scott], he batted really well," reflected Cheshire skipper Hall.

"He didn't really give any chances, I don't think you'll see an innings like that for a long time. Sometimes you've just got to take your hat off to someone who plays that well.

"Northumberland played well, the pressure was always on us chasing such a huge score."

Earlier Hyde all-rounder Dan Berry withdrew from the 12-man squad with a hamstring injury, which meant Didsbury left-arm spinner Jonny Fawcett kept his starting place for the second match in a row.

Next up for Cheshire is a home clash with Staffordshire at Grappenhall Cricket Club on Sunday (16 May), 11.00am start.

Hall added: "We can still qualify for the quarter-finals, but we're going to need to beat Staffs on Sunday. It's a big match for us."


By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Press Officer, mobile 07813 859986)

Pictured: Cheshire batsman James Duffy in full flow.
Photo courtesy of David Bailey
CHESHIRE have named a strong 12-man squad for Sunday's MCCA Knockout Trophy away clash with Northumberland at Jesmond Cricket Club (11am start).

Last season's Championship finalists welcome back James Duffy, Jason Whittaker and Daniel Berry for the 50-over one-day contest as they look to build on last weekend's fine nine-wicket win at home to Shropshire.

Hyde skipper Duffy has been in fine form for his club in the Chapel Press Cheshire County League ECB Premier League with two centuries in three matches thus far, while Alderley Edge all-rounder Whittaker starred with a brilliant 8-60 return as his club tasted victory last weekend.

And Hyde all-rounder Daniel Berry also comes back into the reckoning having missed the Shropshire clash with a badly-bruised hand.

But Cheshire will be without wicketkeeper Matt Dawson, who is unavailable and who will hand the gloves to the versatile Duffy.

And there will be no Rick Moore either, the Oulton Park all-rounder who starred with four wickets and an unbeaten 62 as Cheshire hammered Shropshire at Marple Cricket Club five days ago. Moore is also unavailable for selection.

"It's a big game for us on Sunday," revealed Cheshire Team Co-ordinator Peter Babbage.

"We've had a very good start beating Shropshire, but you can't afford many slip-ups in the group stages. Another win would put us in a strong position.

"It will be good to have Jason Whittaker back, he's got plenty of experience and we all know how good a player James Duffy is, he's already scored two centuries this season.

"So while we'll miss Rick Moore and Matt Dawson, we know we've got some very good replacements.

"And of course Daniel Berry is back in the squad having missed the Shropshire came because of his hand injury, so we've got a very strong squad."

A view shared by Cheshire skipper Andy Hall who is confident his side can have a very good season if they fire on full cylinders.

"We've got a really good mixture of experience and youth this season, it's a strong squad," said Hall.

"It was a good win for us against Shropshire, but we know we're going to have to play well to beat Northumberland.

"But we've got fond memories of playing at Jesmond, we beat Northumberland there in 2007 to win the Championship title - we played really well."

Cheshire 12-man squad:
Warren Goodwin (Chester Boughton Hall)
Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
Louis Bentley (Oulton Park)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park) - vice captain
James Duffy (Hyde) - wicketkeeper
Dan Berry (Hyde)
Jonny Fawcett (Didsbury)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
Adam Syddall (Bowdon)
James Hawley (Neston)
Jason Whittaker (Alderley Edge)

Scorer: Jim Law

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