THERE is a chance for several Murray Smith Accountants Cheshire County League clubs in the running for promotion to test their strength against opposition from higher divisions on Sunday in the second round of the Fred Graham Trophy.
Of special interest to Division One leaders Widnes will be their tie against Didsbury at Beaconsfield Road, when Andy Woods and his men get the opportunity to see what a useful ECB Premier Division outfit looks like.
Widnes' batting has been outstanding all season with Aussie Adam Landy now the league's highest scorer with 655 runs, but Didsbury also have a powerful line-up, top batsman Jhangir Abbas having cracked two centuries in his last three innings. There should be a feast of runs for the spectators.
Bidding to rise out of Division Two, Irby host a useful Winnington Park outfit fresh from their 10-wickets triumph at Warrington last weekend.
Chester Boughton Hall, one of the Premiership pacesetters will need to beware at home to Toft, who are hard to beat and handily placed in the higher reaches of Division One, newly-reinforced by the arrival of Cambridge University pace bowler David Noble.
There's an interesting south Cheshire derby at Nantwich with a big crowd expected for the visit of neighbours Alsager, a division below the Dabbers, but keen to put one over on their rivals.
Trophy favourites and holders Bowdon host bottom of the Premier League Bramhall, who will have Cheshire skipper Andy Hall back after this week's washed-out county match in Cornwall.
In the First Division of the league on Saturday, there's an intriguing clash between Upton and Widnes at Greasby, with home skipper Nick Rivett eager to peg back the visitors' title challenge.
Nick is full of praise for his 17-year-old all-rounder Lee Dixon, one of best players to emerge from the club's progressive youth policy: "Lee is a chip off the old block. His dad Gary has been one of our best players for years, now Lee is catching him up. He opened the batting and bowling last Saturday." Upton's long-serving player Brian Shenton tomorrow makes his 1,000th club appearance when he plays for the 2nd XI at Bramhall. As good a club servant as they come, Brian made his debut for Upton 4th as a raw teenager in July, 1969 and has played continuously - in every team - ever since.
Battling for their lives in Division One, Warrington take on Cheadle Hulme at Walton Lea, while Grappenhall host Toft at Broad Lane looking for more fireworks from prolific young opener James McCoy who has twice topped 120 for Cheshire U15s this week. James has been selected to play for the North of England in the Bunbury/ ESCA Festival at Shrewsbury School on Monday.
In Division Two, leaders by 11 points Christleton visit Tattenhall, who are in danger of making a quick return to the Meller Braggins League after their promotion as champions.
Riding the crest of a wave in second place are Birken-head Park, who will expect to beat Cheadle at home, with Aussie Damon Livermore and young bowlers John Costain and Chris
Stenhouse currently in top form.
Irby host Stockport Georgians in the first of two home games this weekend..