Centurion Bentley sparks Cheshire win
|Published: 24th May 2010 14:05|
CHESHIRE chased down a record Cumberland score and with a courageous victory kept their silverware hopes alive by progressing to the MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-finals at the weekend.
Oulton Park batsman Louis Bentley notched his maiden century for Cheshire against Cumberland on Sunday
By Neil Goulding
Oulton Park batsman Louis Bentley hit a brilliant maiden century for Cheshire as they successfully chased down a daunting 325 to win in just 50 overs away at Netherfield Cricket Club on Sunday.
Bentley, one of a group of promising young Cheshire players, starred with a fine 104 from 116 balls, an innings which bound together the visitors' batting card after the loss of early wickets.
And there were also important runs from Hyde's James Duffy (64), Oulton Park's Ben Spendlove (40) and Cheshire skipper Andy Hall who, unbeaten on 44 not out, guided his team to a famous victory with two balls to spare in a gripping finish to their last qualifying group match.
Official final group tables have yet to be confirmed, but it looks as though Cheshire have finished second in the group. Shropshire beat Staffordshire in their last match and are expected to be the group winners by virtue of a quicker net run rate.
As yet it is also unknown who Cheshire will play in the quarter-finals on Sunday 13th June, although the fixture is believed to be away and against the winners of Group 4, which will either be Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire or Suffolk. That group is also set to be decided by net run rate.
"It was just a great game of cricket," reflected Hall. "To chase down 325 to win a 50-over match was a great effort, it's not often you'll see that happen.
"I'm really pleased for Louis, he batted brilliantly, and for the team. It's been a great effort from all the players. We're all looking forward to the quarter-finals."
Cumberland batted first on a flat track and little trouble in stacking up the runs. Paul Johnson smashed a superb 143 from 142 balls, a new Cumberland record in the Knockout Trophy.
Johnson's innings bettered the previous highest score of 120 not out by David Pearson against Shropshire in 1999 at Whitchurch Cricket Club.
Wicketkeeper Ikramullah Sheikh contributed 61 from 68 balls and Jonathon Miles 38 as the hosts posted an imposing 324-7 from their allotted overs.
It was also Cumberland's highest-ever total in the Knockout Trophy, eclipsing the 293-4 achieved in that same match at Whitchurch.
The key partnership of the weekend's match was for the fourth wicket as, from 145-3, Johnson and Sheikh shared a stand of 163 runs to give Cumberland the perfect start.
Four wickets fell for just 12 runs at the death, but Cheshire knew they had to bat really well to qualify for the next stage.
Spinners Jonny Fawcett (2-63) and Nathan Dumelow (2-52) were the pick of Cheshire's bowlers, while Rick Moore and Adam Syddall both claimed a wicket each. Moore also had a run-out.
And they didn't have a great start when Lancashire 2nd XI batsman Chris Tipper was dismissed for a duck and then the visitors slumped to 52-3.
But an important fourth wicket partnership of 128 between Bentley and Duffy steadied the ship, before wicketkeeper Matt Dawson (27) and captain Hall shared an eight wicket stand of 58 to put Cheshire within touching distance of a famous win.
No 10 batsman Syddall (nine not out) hit two fours in a nerve-racking finale and he Hall scored the 15 runs they needed to get over the winning line with only two balls remaining in the final over. It was a breathtaking finish to a great match.
There were also cause for more celebration on the day when Duffy, a mainstay of the Cheshire team over the past few seasons, was awarded his county cap.
A day earlier the hard-hitting left-hander smashed his third century (106) in just six games this season.
Group 1 - Final standings (subject to change)
Chris Tipper (Northern)
Rick Moore (Oulton Park)
Andy Hall (Bramhall) - captain
Ben Spendlove (Oulton Park)
Louis Bentley (Oulton Park)
Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park) - vice captain
James Duffy (Hyde) - wicketkeeper
Jonny Fawcett (Didsbury)
Richard Logan (Chichester)
Adam Syddall (Bowdon)
Matt Dawson (Bramhall) - wicketkeeper
12th man: James Hawley (Neston)
Scorer: Jim Law