DEFENDING champions Cheshire are flying high at the top of the Minor Counties Championship (Western Division) despite a rain-affected draw with Oxfordshire.
Last year’s winners, who have already beaten Wiltshire and Wales this season, shaded the draw points 8-7 after heavy rain frustrated both counties at Alderley Edge.
But with fellow title-chasers Berkshire and Cornwall both beaten, and Shropshire also held to a draw, Cheshire are 18 points clear at the summit at the season’s halfway stage.
With no play on the second day because of rain a result was always going to be difficult. Cheshire resumed on 187-6 from 44 overs on the third and final day’s play. Maximum points were the priority – and they got them thanks to stand-in skipper Nathan Dumelow and wicket-keeper Matthew Dawson.
Oulton Park’s Dumelow, unbeaten on 80 from the first day, added a further 70 runs before he was finally out for a superb 150. The former Derbyshire all-rounder’s 155-ball innings included four sixes and 22 fours.
Alongside Dawson the pair shared in a spirited sixth-wicket partnership of 138 before Dumelow was out with the score on 286.
Cheshire still needed a further 39 runs to claim full batting points. Dawson (56no) and Daniel Berry (15no) made sure of the points with an important unbeaten seventh-wicket partnership of 45.
The hosts then declared on 331-7, having only used 27 overs to add a further 144 runs.
Cheshire team manager Sandy Scrimgeour said: “We’re in a very strong position but we’ve still got three more games. We can’t get too overconfident.”
Cheshire are at Devon in their next three-day Championship match, at Exmouth (July 20-22).
Despite a brave run chase, Cheshire A slipped to a 39-run defeat away to Durham Academy at Gateshead Fell.
The county second-string needed 241 to win on the second and final day’s play, but fell short in an exciting run chase.
Cheshire were asked to bowl on the opening day and struggled to restrict Durham who 301-8 declared in 64.5 overs. Cheshire then struggled to 143-6 overnight having been 99-6.
On the second day Cheshire added 61 runs for the loss of three more wickets before declaring on 204-9 from 67 overs, 97 runs behind.
Batting for a second time the Durham Academy declared on 144-7 from 43 overs, a lead of 240, before Cheshire lost wickets at regular intervals to fall short.