Skipper pays tribute to double-winners

By Neil Goulding (Cheshire CCC press officer 07813 859986)

CHESHIRE captain Andy Hall has paid a glowing tribute to his victorious team after winning this season's Minor Counties Championship crown.

Hall guided Cheshire to an impressive innings and four runs win over a day to spare against Northumberland in this month's showcase final at Jesmond Cricket Club.

And having won their first outright Championship honours for nearly 20 years, no wonder the county skipper was full of admiration for his players.

Cheshire last won the Championship in 1988 after a one-day victory over Cambridgeshire, although they shared the title in 2001 with Lincolnshire and 2005 with Suffolk.

"It's been an amazing season, we nearly won a (title) treble this year. I'm really proud of the whole team, it's been a collective effort from everyone," praised Hall.

"There have been no easy games and at times we've really had to dig deep and shown what are made of.

"But that's exactly what we did, everyone stuck together and performed when it mattered. Winning the Championship is a proud moment for all of us."

Cheshire won the Western Division this season without losing a match and also reached the MCCA Knockout Trophy final at Lords.

They lost their only match against Suffolk in the final, but crowned a remarkable season with victory over Eastern Division winners Northumberland in the four-day Championship final.

"The confidence we got from not losing a match in the Western Division, and then getting to Lords, really fired us up for the final," added Hall.

"Everyone was disappointed we didn't perform at Lords, but it was a big occasion and a learning experience for a lot of the players.

"But we got to the final, which was a great achievement in itself, and then we were determined not to finish the season with a defeat. I don't think anyone could have imagined us winning the Championship final in the manner we did. It was a stunning performance, it made up in many ways for our defeat against Suffolk."

A view shared by Sandy Scrimgeour, the team's hard-working manager and champion of a regular 14-man squad throughout a memorable season.

"Winning the Championship was a very proud moment for me and the players," said Scrimgeour. "After Lords it could have gone one or two ways. We could have lacked confidence and been beaten again, or we could have showed grit and determination - which is what we did do - and finish the season on a high note.

"The marathon (season) started with a superb win over Devon, and along the way we've experienced lots of up and downs, but we've come through. It's been a real team effort.

"We batted fantastically in the final and bowled really well to make sure we didn't have to bat again. For me, doing that kept the gloss on our win!"