SITTING high at the top of the first division in the Murray Smith Accountants Cheshire County League are newly-promoted Christleton, the village club from Chester who have come a long way in a short time.
Three years ago the Little Heath outfit were in the Meller Braggins Cheshire League, but successive promotions have now put them within sight of Premier League cricket in the county for the first time.
Christleton's good years have been enjoyed under the captaincy of top-line batsman Jim Gillson, who led them to the second division title last September before stepping down in favour of former Bootle pace-man Matt Parkinson. Gillson said: "I've done my bit, so I moved aside to let Matt try and take the club on a bit further. It looks as though he might do just that."
Christleton showed their true strength on Saturday with a remarkable 10-wicket win at Alsager where recent arrivals Maroof Khan (86) and Simon Ratcliffe (56) knocked off 148 runs for victory without being parted in just 27 overs. Khan is a student at Chester College, who has lived in the UK for four years and looks a real find. Christleton have bolstered their all-round strength further by registering young Indian Abhishek Pawar from Mumbai as their overseas player.
Birkenhead Park registered their first win by an 83-run margin at Urmston where they showed a welcome return to form with bat and ball. Prolific Aussie Dasmon Livermore scored a best-of-the-season 82 in a 203-9 tally, after which teenager Chris Ainsworth routed Urmston for 120 with a pacy 5-20 spell.
The local derby match between Warrington and Grappenhall resulted in a first of the season win for Grappenhall by a handsome six-wicket margin. Former Lancashire paceman Paul Ridgeway took 5-54 to help send Warrington back for 102, then neat innings from Ian Jackson (32 not out) and Will Sharp (32) saw their side home.
Upton were involved in a high-scoring draw at Old Greasby Road in which visiting Toft edged the honours. Toft rattled up 233-8, with teenager Lee Dixon returning a respectable 4-42, after which Upton made a real stab for glory before finishing 13 runs short at 220-8, Chris Dhenin 62 and Andy Beecher 60, both timing the ball well.
Twenty-four hours later, Upton went out of the Jaguar House Cheshire Cup when they lost by three wickets at Chester Boughton Hall in a brought forward second round game. Upton scored 164 and Chester replied with 165-7 (Matthew Griffiths 55).
In two other drawn first division games, Winnington Park edged the points 14-8 at Bram-hall and Cheadle Hulme emerged 16-7 to the good against Brooklands.
Experienced Northamton-shire all-rounder Jeff Cook was the undoubted star of Bollington's 77-run victory over Irby in east-Cheshire.
Cook, strangely not required for four-day games this season, helped his side amass 218-4 with a fluent 88, partnering Kevin Waterhouse (113 not out) in a second-wicket stand worth 160. Irby were dismissed for 141, Mike Newman 41, Dave Newman 38, Cook returning an impressive 6-49.
Tattenhall were no match for newcomers Middlewich, being sent back for 99, John Shepherd 7-26 before going down by five wickets.
In other games, Bredbury St Mark's beat Congleton by seven wickets; Stockport Georgians outplayed Mobberley by four wickets, Heaton Mersey enjoyed a seven-wicket success at Timperley and Cheadle moved top of the shot with a four-wicket success at Weaverham