QUARTER-FINALS WITHIN CHESHIRE'S GRASP
 
By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)
Photo courtesy of Barry Mitchell
Caption: Cheshire's Lee Dixon (below) impressed with runs against Northumberland.


CHESHIRE know victory against Shropshire on 29 May in their last group match would guarantee them a place in this season's MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-finals.
Andy Hall's side were left frustrated by rain as their penultimate qualifying clash at home to Northumberland had to be abandoned on Sunday.
But one point was enough to keep Hall's unbeaten charges top of Group One with just one match remaining.
Having lost the toss Cheshire were 106-3 from 28.1 overs before the wet weather brought a premature close to proceedings at Marple Cricket Club.
At 29-2 the hosts had work to do, but an unbeaten 37 from opening batsman Jonny Kettle and 37 from Lee Dixon steadied the ship before the heavens opened again and no further play was possible.
A win would have seen Cheshire secure a coveted quarter-final berth, but a welcome point now sees them a point clear of Shropshire, last season's Trophy champions, with one match left to play.
"It's frustrating we didn't get a chance to finish the match, but there's nothing you can do about the weather unfortunately," reflected Hall.
"But we're in a very strong position now, we're very hopeful of qualifying. We've not lost and we're really looking forward to this last match.
"We're not mathematically there though, but we know that if we beat Shropshire in our last match then we'll go through."
Cheshire and Shropshire will meet at Shifnal Cricket Club in a contest which should decide who wins Group One.
And Hall knows a victory, which would take his team to an impressive seven points from a possible eight, would make sure Cheshire played the runners-up of Group Four in the next stage.
"It would be great if we can carry on unbeaten through the group stage," added Hall. 
"We're playing with a lot of confidence at the moment and it would be nice to take that confidence through into the quarter-finals.
"We all know there's a chance to play at Lords this season if we can get to the final, it's a real incentive for everyone to be successful."
Cheshire made one late change to their original line-up with wicketkeeper Adam Worrall having dropped out and Hyde all-rounder Danny Berry installed in the starting line-up.
Nantwich's Kettle was due to keep wicket in Worral's absence.
A team for Cheshire's final qualifying match is due to be announced early next week.
 
Marple scorecard - Northumberland won the toss
Cheshire 106-3, 28.1 overs (J Kettle 37 not out, L Dixon 37)
Match abandoned. One point each.
 
For any photos of the Cheshire team please call Neil Goulding on 07813 859986. These can happily be supplied free of charge.
 

CHESHIRE GUNNING FOR THIRD WIN IN A ROW
 
By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC Media Officer, mobile 07813 859986)
Photo courtesy of Derrick Hastings (please credit if used).
 
CHESHIRE skipper Andy Hall knows victory against Northumberland this Sunday (15 May) at Marple Cricket Club (11am start) would put his side firm favourites to qualify for this year's MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-finals.
Hall and his on-song Cheshire team have made an impressive unbeaten start to the new season with victories over Cumberland and Staffordshire.
And flying high at the top of the current Group One standings, Hall is well aware that a third successive victory would see Cheshire go two points clear of Shropshire, last season's Knockout Trophy winners.
Shropshire have also won both of their opening matches, but do not play again until they meet Cheshire on Sunday 29th May at Shifnall Cricket Club.
If Cheshire do beat Northumberland then that match at Shifnall is likely to decide who wins the Group One title.
"We've just got to keep winning and playing the way we have been doing, I've been really impressed with our performances," praised Hall.
"We know it's not got going to be easy against Northumberland, but we're playing with a lot of confidence and fancy our chances of another win.
"They lost their opening match so will want to bounce back from that defeat, but we know that another win pretty much guarantees we qualify for the quarter-finals.
"But we also know it's really important to finish top of the group because that might give us an advantage in the quarter-final stages.
"There's still a long way to go though, we're just concentrating on this match and making sure we get another win under out belts."
 And Hall is hoping to make home advantage count with the match being playing at his club ground.
"Marple is a great club, I've spent quite a few years at Bramhall, but I decided to come back here because this is where I started my cricket," added Hall.
"The club's very proud to be hosting a county match, hopefully we can put a good show on for the spectators. I'm sure they'll be a few down to watch."
Unsurprisingly Cheshire are unchanged for the visit of Northumberland with Hall reluctant to make changes to a winning side.
"Everyone has been contributing, which is great. There's a good spirit amongst the lads, everyone wants to do well this season."

Latest Group One standings:
 
  P won los Pen Pts 
Cheshire CCC 2 2 0 0 4 
Shropshire CCC 2 2 0 0 4 
Cumberland CCC 1 0 1 0 0 
Northumberland CCC 1 0 1 0 0 
Staffordshire CCC 2 0 2 0 0 
 
 
Cheshire's team v Northumberland: 
Warren Goodwin - Chester Boughton Hall
Jonny Kettle (w/k) - Nantwich
Richard Wilkinson - Barnt Green
Lee Dixon - Oxton
James Duffy - Hyde
Andrew Hall (C) - Marple
Danny Berry - Hyde
Richard Logan - Chichester
Danny Woods - York
Jimmy Warrington - Nantwich
Adam Syddall - Urmston
Ross Dixon - Oxton (12th man)

Scorer: Jim Law
 
For any photos of the Cheshire team please call Neil Goulding on 07813 859986. These can happily be supplied free of charge