A MAN-OF-THE-MATCH display from Oulton Park all-rounder Jason Whittaker was not enough for Cheshire to spring a shock victory over Hampshire in the second round of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy at Alderley Edge last Wednesday, writes Neil Goulding.
Danny Leech, the Whitegate-based opening bat and Whittaker's team-mate at Oulton, was caught after just eight runs.
Whittaker, a supply school teacher from Bolton, was excellent with the ball and finished with impressive figures of 4-45 from his allotted 10 overs.
But Whittaker's opening eight overs had yielded 3-18 as Shane Warne's side stuttered at 65-5. Simon Renshaw, a former Hampshire pace bowler, had also chipped in with two important wickets as the home crowd sniffed a victory.
However, a sixth-wicket stand of 96 from 25 overs between Will Kendall (53) and Dimitri Mascarenhas (53) made sure the visitors clawed their way back from the brink.
At 161-6, Hampshire returned from the early tea break with plenty to do. But courtesy of a breathtaking 38 from Chris Tremlett off only 10 balls, Hampshire were able to post a respectable 273-7 from 50 overs.
Cheshire started brightly but were soon in trouble when openers Alexis Twigg and Leech perished early. But at 56-5 and looking like they would be skittled for under 100, Whittaker and wicketkeeper Stephen Ogilby mounted a spirited comeback.
The pair staged a seventh-wicket stand of 55 to help Cheshire over the century.
Ogilby received a rapturous reception from the Moss Lane crowd when he lofted Warne out of the ground for six, and then two overs later did the same to fellow Aussie Michael Clarke.
Ogilby eventually fell for 36 and Whittaker was run out for 27 as the home side's innings ended on 184 in the 48th over.
Skipper Andy Hall praised Whittaker.
'It was a fantastic performance from Jason,' said Hall. 'He bowled good lines, took a couple of good catches and then chipped in with the bat.'
Even Warne admired Whittaker's performance and the Oulton ace himself said: 'It would have been nice to win, but I'm really chuffed with how we played.
'I had trials with Sussex when I was 19 but I never made the grade.
'I was nervous out there but I just said to myself 'go out and enjoy it', and that's what I did. I was determined not to get out to Shane Warne.'
Hampshire beat Cheshire by 89 runs.
TWO Oulton colts, Andy Wilgose, 18, and 17-year-old Paddy Guest, have been selected for the Cheshire U19s team to play the English Universities on May 27.
Details about the club's cricket school are available from Jim du Mayne on 01829 760187.