Recent Cheshire County League fixtures between Alderley Edge's First XI and Nantwich at Whitehouse Lane have been nail-biting affairs and the latest installment on Saturday was no exception as Alderley came away with a dramatic one-wicket victory thanks to a stunning unbeaten hundred by number 8 Tom Foreman.
With an 11am start (the earlier start having been agreed by both clubs and umpires to give time during the day for an extended tea break for players and supporters to be able watch the World Cup Quarter-Final) Adam Worrall won the toss and elected to bowl first in hot and sunny conditions in south Cheshire.
Alderley struck early through Danny Lamb to leave Nantwich on 10-1 in the early stages but a stand of 130 for the second wicket between Steve Rimmer and Ryan Brown looked to be taking the innings away from the visitors.
Wicketkeeper Worrall broke the partnership with a prospective throw at the stumps following an innocuous delivery which found Rimmer strolling from his crease and run out in bizarre fashion for 59. A quick spell from Jonny Scurrah brought the wicket of Brown for 83 and with a very economical second spell from Lamb turning the screw on the Nantwich order, the scoring rate dropped as wickets began to fall.
From 178-3 Nantwich were slowed to 240-6 with the dismissal of dangerous Cheshire batsman Luke Robinson, one of three wickets for Lamb from 16 overs. Keiran Elliott completed a good fightback from the visitors in clean bowling the last 3 batsmen to take 4-55 and restrict Nantwich to 242-9, at least 60 runs below what Alderley were looking to be chasing down at one point in the first innings.
With the tea break agreed to be taken at 3pm Nantwich elected to declare their innings closed one over prior to their allocated 55 overs in order to have a 30 minute spell at Alderley's top order. This worked for the home side to an extent in claiming in-form opener Calum Rowe before tea with the score on 10-1.
Nantwich struck early in the second period after the extended tea break (and England's World Cup Quarter-Final victory over Sweden) to take the prize scalp of Lamb to leave Alderley on 14-2. Nantwich captain Ray Doyle rotated his attack, including former Leicestershire seamer Ollie Freckinham with wickets falling regularly and Alderley struggling to build any momentum.
At 90-7 things were looking bleak for the visitors, however this brought all-rounder Tom Foreman together with Alderley's overseas player Elliott in what emerged to be the match-winning partnership. The pair added 116 together in an unlikely alliance that put the visitors on the back foot with a mixture of resolute defence and swashbuckling counter-attack.
Former Cheshire opening bowler Jimmy Warrington returned to dismiss Elliott just 4 runs short of a deserved half century and shortly after claimed number 10 Dan Fesmer to finish with 4-62 for Nantwich with the visitors still 37 runs adrift of their target. Accompanied by number 11 Andrew Windle, Foreman took control of proceedings to first register a fine century and, rotating the strike intelligently, continued to punish the host's attack sealing a miraculous win with a towering six over the Nantwich clubhouse to take victory with 9 balls of the match remaining and extend Alderley's winning streak in league cricket to five in a row.
Having defeated Nantwich, sitting in second place in the league, Alderley face table-topping Timperley next weekend at Moss Lane in another crunch encounter having now climbed to fifth in the table.
An Alderley Second XI packed with youth were defeated by 3 wickets in the reverse fixture against Nantwich at Moss Lane on Saturday. After winning the toss and choosing to bowl first Nantwich struck regularly to keep the handbrake on the host's top order, reducing them to 79-5. Alderley opener Ollie Pooler provided the mainstay of the home innings with a knock of 57 and shared in a 47 run partnership with number 7 Ben Lambert who hit 34 to push Alderley's total to 166-9. Harry Newton and Scott Wardley both claimed three wickets for the visitors.
In response Alderley took regular wickets to keep Nantwich's chase in check but telling contributions of 62 from opener Robert Howell and a crucial 51 from number 6 Henry Hine helped Nantwich over the line inside 43 overs for the loss of 7 wickets. George Bell took 3-30 and Pooler 2-3 in a valiant effort for the home side.
On Sunday the 3rd XI cruised to an 8 wicket win over Sale at Moss Lane. Stand-in skipper George Bell won the toss and elected to bowl first and although there were consistent scores from the Sale top order, economical bowling from Alderley's attack throughout the fist innings kept Sale to an under par total of 186-6 from their 45 overs.
Asad Khan top scored for the visitors with 43, Alex Murthy the pick of Alderley's bowlers collecting 2-24 off 12 overs. The hosts reached their target for the loss of only 2 wickets with 86 not out from Will Valentine and 56 from Bell seeing the home side to a comfortable victory with 10 overs to spare.
Match report by Andrew Windle.