WIDNES, winners by 86 runs against Neston at Parkgate, jointly top the season's first table in the ECB Premier Division of the Murray Smith Accountanrts Cheshire County League.
Led by the league's youngest-ever captain in 20-year-old wicket-keeper Ian Spencer, Widnes were set on their path to the useful tally of 207 off 55 overs by an even more youthful player, opener James McCoy, 17, who slammed 57 in less than even time.
When McCoy was fourth out at 106, former Pakistan Test all-rounder Shahib Mahboob made his mark with a classy innings of 35 and one-time Liverpool Competition star Bapa Mukherjee (22) helped to add useful late runs against an attack which was disappointing apart from Dave Collyer, who claimed 4-49 off 15 overs.
Lancashire all-rounder Andrew Crook took a costly 3-91 on his club debut.
Apart from former Sussex and Somerset batsman Bran Donelan's duck on another league debut, the early Neston batsmen all settled in with Chris Hackett scoring 32, Jamie Hackett 31 and Crook 21. At 112-4, Neston were level-pegging, but skip-per Spencer's introduction of part-time bowler Andy Kirby proved the turning point and his 4-14 off eight overs turned the game in Widnes's favour.
Of the remaining batsmen four failed to score and only wicket-keeper Andy Roberts (33) managed to put bat to ball
Ex-Lancashire and Derbyshire all-rounder Steve Titchard chipped in with 3-20 and Bapa Mukheree 3-30 as the innings closed at 121 in the 37 over, earning Neston a meagre six points and Widnes 24.
Only two other Premier League games were played because of rain and they were reduced in overs and drawn.
In their first game at Little Heath, promoted Christleton held out at 127-7 (Gerry Jacobs 34no) in reply to Hyde's 183, skipper John Ashley top-scoring with 42, while home skipper Matt Parkinson returned 4-44.
Chester Boughton Hall were left with 32 overs in which to overhaul Alderley Edge's 156-9 off 38 overs (Mark Currie 38, Harry Bailey 33, Robin Fisher 3-42). They reached 127-6, Eddie Roberts looking in good form after a winter playing Melbourne grade cricket with a sound 55.
Abandoned without a ball bowled was the key fixture between champions Bowdon and early favourites Oulton Park. 20050502