ALVANLEY'S season started with a draw and a defeat followed by a washout last week, so they travelled to Prestbury determined to kick-start their campaign - but it wasn't to be as they went down by three wickets in a high-scoring match.
Stand-in captain Mark Szymura won the toss and decided to bat first on a soft green track that was not going to improve, however much the sun shone.
With the ball darting around at the start of the innings, Alvanley limped to 20-2 off the first 10 overs. Ian Charles and Andy Senior started to improve the situation and guided the score to 43 without further loss when the Prestbury opening bowlers were both rested, having bowled nine overs each. Charles was out to an incredible catch in the 22nd over with a personal contribution of 41 out of the 64 runs on the scoreboard.
Senior and Mark Szymura were able to accelerate against the change bowlers and moved the score up to 119 off 31 overs before the opening bowlers were brought back.
Prestbury's captain Chris Lester picked up three quick wickets when bowling Senior for 53, trying to add to his three sixes and six fours. He also bowled Szymura two overs later for 28 and had Phil Jones caught for two, so Alvanley were reduced to 152-6 off 39 overs.
Nick Hawking and Chris Fletcher took up the challenge and savaged the Prestbury attack, smashing Lester out of the ground in each of his last three overs, which went for 38 runs as the pair skilfully stole singles and cracked boundaries to lift the total to 209 off their 45 overs.
Hawking's 41no off just 31deliveries included two sixes and two fours and Fletcher, who perished in the final over, reached 21 off just 15 deliveries, including a six and two fours.
Prestbury's opening batsman Constable played some outrageous shots as he exploited his knowledge of the small ground and crashed 60 off 55 balls, before he was stumped by Fletcher off Hawking's bowling.
Fellow opener Thompson was bowled around his legs by Hawking for 34, but the home side were in a strong position at 112-2 off 22 overs.
The ever-dangerous Julian Cheetham had cruised into the 20s when Peter Pearce was brought into the Alvanley attack. His accurate away swing slowed things down and when he had Cheetham stumped for 37 off the final ball of his third over, he had the 29. impressive figures of 1-4.
Opening bowler James Rowlinson had returned at the other end and he clean-bowled batsmen five and six, which left Prestbury panicking at 169-5 with six overs to go.
Pearce and Rowlinson continued to bowl a frugal line and two run-outs highlighted the tension. Unfortunately, Prestbury secured victory off the fourth ball of the final over, which means that Alvanley have the embarrassment of sitting at the foot of the table after four matches.
Alvanley are at home to Mere tomorrow. In the second XI fixture at Alvanley, Prest-bury were restricted to 152-8 by veteran Peter French, who bowled 23 overs unchanged to earn 5-66. Alvanley replied strongly, thanks initially to 47 from first-team skipper Glen Pickersgill, who had recovered sufficiently from the stomach bug that had prevented him from travelling to Prestbury and opened the batting. This was followed by 36no from Steve Liddiard and 30no from Graham Smith as Alvanley cruised to victory with three overs to spare.
Malpas broke their duck with a six-wickets victory at Burnage in Division One. The home side was sent back for 126 with Paul Bradley claiming 3-21, and in reply, opener Keith Ricketts steered Malpas home with an unbeaten 60, supported by 27 from Neil Smith.
The seconds cruised to a seven-wickets victory at home to Port Sunlight, who were bowled out for 127 (Martin Punnett 3-35, Dave Parry 3-24).
Ian Rees led the reply with an undefeated 59 and teenager Eddie Barlow chipped in Malpas are at home to Wilmslow tomorrow.
Barrow were well short of their target at Oakmere after the hosts had posted 184-6 declared. And at the close, Barrow were hanging on at 125-9.