Cheshire 365-8 (50 overs), Shropshire 266 (46.4 overs). Cheshire won by 99 runs
After a difficult week, Chester ended on a high after thumping Shropshire by 99 runs in their third KO Trophy Group 1 match at Toft.
The result was even more extraordinary considering a midweek decision to switch the full 11 players from last week’s win at Northumberland after one of the side had tested positive for Covid.
That Cheshire managed to put out such a strong side was testament to the quality available across the county - and in no small part to the tenacity of team manager Pete Babbage.
“We obviously had to fulfil the fixture,” he said, “and everybody rallied to the call. There were two or three players on the fringe of the side anyway, a couple who had played in the opening game against Cumbria and a couple who’d not been available up until now.”
Rick Moore, who last captained the side in 2019, took the helm and had no hesitation in batting first on a flat wicket. He and Alex Money (31) saw off the new ball before Harry Dearden (100), making his first appearance for several years, took over. The Leicestershire ace pulled, drove and cut to a fine hundred and together with the returning Luke Robinson (68) added 126 for the third wicket. Robinson was at his big hitting best and when he gave way to Ed Fluck, the Alderley Edge man worked the middle and late order well. He finished unbeaten on 51, Nick Anderson hitting 28 and Jack Williams 24.
The Cheshire total of 365-8 was nine runs short of Cheshire’s highest KO record - 374 against Lincolnshire at Chester in 2018.
Shell-shocked Shropshire needed to get their reply moving swiftly against the impressive Chris Sanders and Chris Stenhouse bowling together well in tandem. It was Stenhouse - bowling straight through his ten overs - who broke the back of the top order, taking 4-55.
Xavier Clarke made 55 and Graham Wagg 64 for the visitors but Cheshire were always well ahead. There were two wickets for Sanders and Williams as Shropshire were bowled out 99 runs short in the 47th over.
A triumph for Cheshire - admired from a distance by the ‘usual’ KO captain, Will Evans. “What a great result,” he said. “A great advert for the strength in depth we have.” Thoughts echoed too by Rick Moore. “I couldn’t have asked for much more from the players. They were all called together at short notice and really took to their task. Great teamwork.”
Cheshire now sit in second place in the table with a game to play. It’s anyone’s group (two progress), with Cumbria favourites to top the group. In the end it may well come down to net run rate. Cheshire’s final game is against Staffordshire at Knyperley in two weeks.
Remaining G1 fixtures: Shropshire v Staffordshire, Northumberland v Cumbria, Cumbria v Shropshire, Staffordshire v Cheshire
Rick Moore (Chester Boughton Hall) ) (captain)
Alex Money (Chester Boughton Hall)
Harry Dearden (Glossop)
Luke Robinson (Nantwich)
Ed Fluck (Alderley Edge)
Nick Anderson (Didsbury)
Jack Williams (Chester Boughton Hall)
Danny Cranmer (Hyde)
Adam Worrall (Hyde) (wk)
Chris Sanders (Alderley Edge)
Chris Stenhouse (Oxton)