CHESHIRE believe they might just have found the ideal opening partnership following the arrival of former Cumberland ace Alexis Twigg.
Twigg, who plays for Harro-gate in the Yorkshire ECB Premier League, made a splendid start to his Cheshire career with scores of 40 and 43 not out on his debut against Herefordshire at Chester Boughton Hall.
And for Cheshire chairman Gerry Hardstaff, Twigg is the perfect attacking foil for the team's other opener, Danny Leech, the promising Oulton Park left-hander.
Leech has spent most of this season opening the innings with skipper Andy Hall, and to their credit, both players have done a good job for their county.
However, Hall has admitted he prefers to bat lower down in the order and that has presented a slot for Twigg to come in and show what he is capable of. "Alexis is is a very good play-er," said Hardstaff. "He has come to us on a very good recommendation from Dave Pennett, also from Harrogate, and, on the way he performed against Herefordshire, he showed he is a very solid and compact player.
"Andrew [Hall] prefers to bat down the order, so it suits the team that Alexis is opening the batting."
That view is shared by Hall, who has welcomed the arrival of Twigg.
"Alexis had a good debut," said Hall. "He showed he could bat on a difficult track. I think we have got a nice balance in the side now and I do prefer to bat lower down, rather than open."
Although Twigg has made an easy transition into the county fold, it was far from easy to hold down a regular place with Cumberland because of work commitments
"I played the last three games for Cumberland last year and did well," said Twigg, "but because of work I missed a lot of games at the start of the year and I lost my opener's position.
"Cumberland gave me a chance to open the batting this year, but I just wasn't available. There's another local lad come in and filled the position, but I want to play Minor Counties cricket so I'm looking forward to playing for Cheshire.
"The lads have really helped me settle in and I was pleased with the way I performed on my debut." Twigg has every right to be pleased with the way he performed against an opening attacker which included former England bowler Martin McCague and former Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire player Kevin Cooper, who took an impressive 52 wickets last term to head the Minor Counties bowling charts.
"Herefordshire have a great attack and it wasn't easy to bat because it was a wet wicket, which made it difficult," added Twigg, "but I'm an attacking batsman and I like to play my shots. I was disappointed the last day was rained off because I felt I was batting well at 43 not out. We've got a very strong team and I'm really looking forward to getting to know the lads."
Twigg spent his first Cheshire experience cooped up in a hotel every night because the players go home when they are playing in a home fixture.
But the ambitious 25-year-old is relishing the opportunity to establish himself in a very strong side.
"I should get to know the boys a little better after the Wales game," said Twigg. "I want to play the highest standard of cricket I can and I know I have a good chance to do that with Cheshire."
Twigg started playing cricket at Repton Boarding School in Derbyshire and then developed his game at York Cricket Club.
That was followed by a three-year spell playing in Sheffield while at Sheffield University, and ultimately the move to Harrogate where his game has blossomed.
"Gerry Hardstaff rang me and asked me to play and I said yes straight away," added Twigg.
"I hope I can do a good job opening the innings for Cheshire. Myself and Danny Leech have already got a good under-standing, which is important.
"He is a good, solid batsman, so I think we can do well together and give the side a strong base."
Cheshire play Shropshire in the last Minor Counties Championship match from August 17-19 at Whitchurch, followed by Bedfordshire in the First Round of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy on Thursday August 28.