Photo: Steve Green (10-150 in match) & Joe Cooke (96 & 99) - joint Cheshire men of the match v Oxfordshire
Cheshire 170 (67.2 overs) & 363 (100.2 overs), Oxfordshire 233 (87.2 overs) & 227 (71.1 overs). Cheshire won by 73 runs
In the end it pretty much went to the wire as the Western Division 1 Championship was played out in dramatic style at Banbury and Sidmouth on the last day of the final round of games.
At tea, in both games, all results were just about possible with both Oxfordshire and Devon scrapping for the title and Cheshire and Herefordshire seeking survival.
Cheshire had spectacularly turned things round on day two to take the initiative at Banbury and day 3 was all about matching or getting a better result than Herefordshire. Going into the day a point ahead of their relegation rivals, Cheshire set about setting a total that would give them enough time to dismiss Oxfordshire who would need to chase it down for glory.
No declaration was forthcoming as Cheshrie were bowled out forty minutes before lunch with Joe Cooke agonisingly out for 99 - this after being dismissed for 96 in the first innings.
A typlical late salvo from Chris Sanders (41) gave some valuable runs at the back end meaning 336 all out set the hosts 301 to win from a minimum 55 overs plus 17 in the last hour. George Tait took 4-105 as the pitch continued to offer help for the spinners.
Jamie Harrison (62) and Luke Hayes (33) set about the chase positively reaching 104 before Steve Green had Harrison dismissed with Wainwright taking the catch at mid off.
And it was the slow bowlers who enjoyed their afternoon as Cheshire patiently chipped away. The Devon/Herefordshire game was being monitored throughout and wickets began to fall as Oxfordshire saw their title hopes slipping away with Devon in control at Sidmouth.
In the end Steve Green took 6-73 to add to his first innings 4-77 and end with 10-150. Wainwright took 3-30 and there was a wicket too for debutant Eddie Morrison (1-65) as Cheshire got home by 73 runs.
At last the weather held for a three day game and Cheshire could relax knowing they'll remain in Division 1 next season with Cornwall replacing Herefordshire.
The vagries of the recently changed four match (rather than six) championship season had caused havoc as Cheshire, having seen their first game (Herefordshire) completely washed out, became a championship contender two weeks ago until rain ruined their almost certain chance to beat Berkshire. Still in the hunt, rain changed the course of the next game at Chester against Devon when a contrived declaration saw them fall 24 runs short rather than plump for turgid draw.
It felt that Cheshire had suffered misfortune to then suddenly be a prime candidate for relegation but the performance against the potential champions Oxfordshire was well earned.
Congratulations to Devon who take the title and now play Eastern Division champions, Buckinghamshire in the four day final next month.
Cheshire's season review to follow...