CHESHIRE SLIP TO SURPRISE DEFEAT AGAINST OXFORDSHIRE
By Neil Goulding
LAST year's finalists Cheshire slipped to a surprise defeat at
the hands of Oxfordshire in the MCCA Knockout Trophy at the weekend.
But despite a loss in their third 50-over group match on Sunday
at Great and Little Tew Cricket Club - the first time a Minor
Counties match has been plated at the ground - the county remain
top of the table and are still favourites to qualify for the quarter-final
stages of the this season's competition.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Andy Hall's side stuttered
to 178 all out in 48.5 overs, before the hosts won with six wickets
and 11.4 overs to spare.
Unfortunately for Cheshire their top-order again failed to fire
as regular wickets fell. The visitors struggled at 21-1, 23-2,
58-3, 71-4 and 71-5, before a spirited sixth-wicket partnership
of 54 between skipper Hall (52) and all-rounder Jason Whittaker
(15) took the score to 125, before the latter was dismissed.
Hall batted for nearly two and a half hours for his patient 68-ball
innings, which included six fours. But with only Warren Goodwin
(25) the only other batsman to make a useful contribution, Cheshire
always struggled to take any control of the match.
When Hall was dismissed in the 41st over with the score on 150,
it saw Cheshire lose their last five wickets for just 28 runs.
Adam Syddall and Guy Emmett put on 21 of those in a determined
Oxfordshire found the going tough in their reply and were 9-1,
25-2, 60-3 and 82-4. Syddall (2-34), Nathan Dumelow (1-46) and
Whittaker (1-34) in the wickets for Cheshire.
But a gutsy unbeaten 75 from Robert Williams and runs from left-hander
Adam Cook (40) guided the home county to victory.
Williams, whose 81-ball innings included eight fours and three
sixes, shared an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 97 with
Cook as Oxfordshire won in 38.2 overs.
James Hewitt, who took three Cheshire wickets, also chipped in
with a useful 35 as Oxfordshire kept themselves in the hunt to
qualify for the knockout stages.
"We just didn't score enough runs, we're losing too many
early wickets at the moment," reflected Cheshire team manager
"It's disappointing to lose, but we're still in the driving
seat. We need to win our last group match against Cumberland,
if we do that we'll qualify.
"It's not going to be easy, but hopefully the players can
bounce back from this defeat. They all know we need to play better."
Cheshire were forced to make one change for the match with Hyde
spinner Danny Woods dropping out to play for his university side
Leeds Bradford UCCE, which gave fellow Hyde teammate Danny Berry
the chance to start. Oxton's Chris Davies filled in as twelfth
Cheshire 178 all out, 48.5 overs (Hall 52, Hewitt 3-34)
Oxfordshire: 179-4, 38.2 overs (Williams 75 not out, Cook 40 not
Result: Cheshire (0pts), who lost the toss and elected to bat,
lost to Oxfordshire (2pts) by six wickets
Cheshire team: Andy Hall (capt, Bramhall), Danny Leech (Oulton
Park), Warren Goodwin (Chester Boughton Hall), Ben Spendlove (Oulton
Park), James Duffy (Hyde), Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park), Jason
Whittaker (Alderley Edge), Matt Dawson (wkt, Bramhall), Adam Syddall
(Bowdon), Daniel Berry (Hyde), Guy Emmett (Oulton Park). 12th
man: Chris Davies (Oxton). Scorer: Janet Herbert.