Alderley Edge First XI slipped to fourth in the Cheshire County Premier League on Saturday after coming out on the wrong side of a losing draw away at Widnes. Winning the toss Alderley's stand-in captain Adam Worrall elected to bowl first on a hard and flat pitch at Beaconsfield Road which offered little assistance to the seamers as the hosts' opening pair made their way to 47 before the spin of Alan Day claimed the first wicket.
Tight bowling and a strong fielding display from Alderley had kept the scoring rate under 2.5 runs an over for the majority of the Widnes innings, only bringing up their 100 in the 35th over. Widnes' overseas player Jonathan Campbell and number 5 James McCoy put on 50 for the fourth wicket, upping the scoring rate as they did so to take the home side to 153-4 before McCoy was caught behind off the returning Jake Hill.
The introduction of George Bell for his first outing with the ball for the first XI accounted for Campbell, who made a valuable 63 from 80 balls, and Majid Majeed who hit 34 from 33 balls as the young spinner slowed the home side's momentum and scoring options from one end of the wicket in collecting 2-20 in an impressive 6 over spell. Majeed's dismissal left Widnes on 201-6, the returning Richard Wilkinson bowling out from the opposite end taking 2-35 in keeping Widnes to 218-8 from their 55 overs.
Alderley began their innings at a swift pace, registering their first 50 off 10 overs for the loss of opener Calum Rowe. Widnes' veteran spinner Majeed then struck twice in the space of 5 balls, dismissing Ed Foster and then Ed Fluck to slow Alderley's progress at 72-3. Sam Perry became the next wicket to fall on 104-4 having made a patient 58 as the Widnes spinners began to make inroads into the Alderley middle order and slow their progress.
Number 5 Richard Wilkinson provided the mainstay of the innings from that point on, combining with Bell for the 6th wicket as the pair added 53 runs in a display of solid defence and deft placement which looked to be pushing the visitors to victory. However Widnes responded with Majeed dismissing Bell for 30 and captain Tom Evans claiming Wilkinson for 47 to leave Alderley at 187-7. With 32 required from the final 5 overs Alan Day and Andrew Windle hit the gaps and ran smartly in continuing to whittle down the required runs without being able to find the boundary.
With 16 still needed from the final over Day was stumped for 11 attempting the big shot that may have given Alderley a chance of victory. With his removal Windle and Blair Campbell batted out the remaining deliveries closing on 205-8. Evans starred for the hosts with the ball taking 4-51 with Majeed claiming 3-42 to help the home side to 12 points to Alderley's 7.
In Second XI action Alderley faced a strong Didsbury outfit at Moss Lane, skipper Jon Usher winning the toss and electing to bowl first. Didsbury's openers laid a solid platform in amassing 102 for the opening partnership before Dave Tubby was dismissed for 46 by David Johnson.
Fellow opener Shabaz Qasim continued to build the innings as Usher shuffled his bowlers in a search for wickets as Didsbury moved towards the 150 mark. Will Valentine, the 7th bowler to be used by Alderley, quickly made an impact dismissing number 3 Steve Whiteside for 33 and with Johnson claiming his second of the day in dismissing Qasim for 77 Alderley fought back to restrict the visitor's middle order as Didsbury slumped to 190-6. 21 from Matthew Laker at number 7 helped to keep the Didsbury score moving past the 200 mark to finish on 226-8 from their 50 overs with Valentine finishing with an impressive 5-51 from 9 overs for the hosts.
In reply the Alderley's top 3 - Jonny Scurrah, Joey Chong and Henry Stevinson - all registered scores in the 20s but none were able to go on and make a telling contribution that would help Alderley threaten Didsbury's total with the hosts falling from 70-3 to be dismissed for 160 in the 41st over. Louis Poyser caused the majority of the damage for Didsbury, claiming 5-47 as the visitors claimed victory by 66 runs, Alderley taking 5 points from the contest.
On Sunday Alderley's Third XI travelled to Nantwich where skipper Will Valentine won the toss and elected to bat first. Valentine hit 32 opening the innings and set Alderley on their way with number 3 Ashray Bhamidipati's 32 taking the visitors past the 50 mark for the loss of 1 wicket. Number 4 Tejas Rao (59) and Number 6 Blair Campbell (52) both hit half centuries in sharing the partnership of the game adding 102 for the 5th wicket as Alderley took control of proceedings cruising past the 200 run mark.
Some lower order hitting from George Valentine saw Alderley up to 223-8 from their 45 overs with Scott Williams (4-54) and Pete Marsh (3-39) the stand-outs for Nantwich with the ball.
An excellent 85 from Nantwich opener Callum Pearson provided the bedrock of the home side's chase but Alderley remained in control, regularly taking wickets to stop Pearson forming any significant partnerships. With Pearson dismissed at 120-5 a quickfire 28 from Nantwich captain Nick Bentley briefly threatened a fightback but 3-36 from David Johnson helped to snuff out any remaining resistance as Nantwich were bowled out for 192 in the penultimate over to claim the win by a margin of 31 runs.
Match report by Andrew Windle.