By Neil Goulding (Cheshire Press Officer, 07931 376811)

CHESHIRE suffered heartache with a cruel one-wicket defeat at the hands of Wales in the MCCA Knockout Cup on Sunday.

Andy Hall's team started well enough and raced to 50 for no wicket, having won the toss and elected to bat.

But eight wickets fell for just 79 runs and Cheshire found themselves in trouble, until an important ninth wicket partnership yielded 43 runs to haul the home side back from the brink of being dismissed for under 150.

Jason Whittaker top-scored with 33, while opener Mark Currie, the ex-Lancashire batsman, was the only other major contributor with 27.

Extras also played their part, 32 of which made up Cheshire's total.

Hall was relieved that his side at least managed to score 180 before they were all out - a score which was about par for the course, especially after the loss of wickets at regular intervals.

That target seemed to be beyond Wales, though, as they stuttered to 106-8 thanks to some fine bowling from Whittaker, the pick of the bowlers with 3-16 from ten overs, while debutante Tom Young and former Derbyshire all-rounder Nathan Dumelow both returned impressive figures of 2-32.

However, a ninth wicket stand for the visitors proved crucial, with current Glamorgan squad player Ben Wright the bedrock of Wales' innings.

Dumelow reduced Wales to 162-9, leaving the Welsh side requiring 19 runs from just over five overs, making Cheshire favourites again.

But Wright guided Wales home with his unbeaten 86 and Steve Watkin, the former England bowler, hit two fours at the end of the innings in a support role which denied Cheshire victory.

"I'm very disappointed we've not won - and so are all the players," said Hall.

"We probably didn't get enough runs, but on saying that 180 was about par for the course.

"At 106-8 I thought we had the match in the bag, but all credit to Wales, Ben Wright batted well and won them the game.

"It was touch and go all the way through the match, and when we got the ninth wicket I thought we were still favourites.

"It would have been nice to have progressed further this year because everyone knows if you win a few games you can be playing at Lords.

"But we've had a good win against Herefordshire in our first Championship match - and we'll look to extend that run at home to Cornwall next week (June 20-22, at Alderley Edge Cricket Club, Moss Lane)."

Gerry Hardstaff, Cheshire's chairman of cricket, was also disappointed with his team's performance, but took positives from the match, particularly a battling bowling and fielding display and the performance of Young on debut.

"We were well below our best, but we still could have won - and I thought we should have after the way we bowled to get ourselves back into the match," said Hardstaff.

"We got ourselves into a winning position, but our batting let us down and we should have scored a few more runs.

"We did bowl very well, though, and I thought Tom Young had an excellent debut. He's a promising young player."

MCCA Knockout Cup (Nantwich Cricket Club, 50 overs)

Cheshire 180 all out, 48.5 overs, 32 extras (Whittaker 33, Currie 27, Roberts 4-19, Waters 2-22.
FOW: 50, 50, 75, 75, 92, 98, 103, 129, 172, 180.

Wales 184-9, 47.5 overs, 13 extras (Wright 86 not out, Whittaker 3-16, Young 2-32, Dumelow 2-32).
FOW: 14, 40, 43, 44, 59, 92, 104, 106, 162.

Result: Wales won by one wicket