Batting collapses have happened with frustrating regularity throughout the season for Alderley Edge 1st XI and another occurrence on Saturday left them short in a mid-table clash with Oulton Park in the Cheshire County League.
Having won the toss and elected to bat on a slow, low wicket the home side's openers Martin East and Cheshire captain Danny Leech resisted the Alderley Edge attack until beyond the mid-innings drinks break in amassing 136 for the first wicket. On the small Little Budworth ground runs were hard to prevent but a 9 over spell of Andrew Windle's medium pace brought Alderley back into the game removing both openers, East for 77 and Leech for 61 - a steepling catch well taken at mid-wicket by Calum Rowe - and number 4 Tom Hyslop for 13 to leave the home side on 188-3. Australian Keiran Elliott and spinner Charlie Reid worked in tandem to slow the scoring of the remaining middle order taking 2-41 and 2-45 respectively in holding the hosts to 255-8 from their 55 overs which represented a good fightback given 300 was a plausible total for Outlon Park at the mid-innings break.
Alderley got off to a poor start in the second innings with Alan Day dismissed without a run on the board. Calum Rowe and Sam Perry carried the total past 50 with some eye-catching strokeplay before Perry was adjudged lbw missing a sweep shot for 31. With Oulton Park's bowlers opting to take pace off the ball on what was becoming a sticky surface, scoring became more difficult and when Tom Hyslop had Danny Lamb caught behind for 30 shortly after the drinks break Alderley were struggling to press the accelerator at 110-3.
East was following up his fine performance with the bat in collecting 6-72 with the ball and sparked a decline in which Alderley lost 6 wickets for just 7 runs with 3 batsmen dismissed with the score on 160. In the midst of the collapse Alderley lost opener Rowe for 61, one of 3 wickets for Hyslop. Watching from the other end was Alderley captain Adam Worrall and in the knowledge Alderley have banked a number of victories with the final partnership this season, the skipper continued to be positive in chasing the 96 required for victory with number 11 Andrew Windle providing stout resistance in support. Worrall attacked the short boundary off the medium pacers with 3 sixes which began to test the nerves of the home side as the tenth wicket partnership pushed past the 60 run mark, but with the asking rate climbing and the home side bowling cleverly in protecting the short boundary Hyslop induced a caught and bowled from Worrall to seal the victory for the hosts by 36 runs.
In the reverse fixture at Moss Lane, the visitors won the toss and elected to bat first against Jon Usher's 2nd XI. After another century stand from Oulton Park's openers, Andrew Mills and Roger Thompson putting on 107, the home side fought back on the back of slow left armer Mark Warnes' 5 wickets for 40 runs. Tight bowling and good fielding in the second half of the innings restricted the rest of the visitor's batting order to just 68 runs dismissing them for 175 with Dan Fesmer and Harry Elms taking 2 wickets each for Alderley. In reply the hosts lost Ben Lambert early but a stand of 127 for the second wicket between Henry Stevinson and Jonny Scurrah broke the back of the run chase. 3 late wickets for Owen Williamson kept Oulton Park in the hunt but having earlier combined with the ball, Fesmer and Elms struck the remaining runs needed to take Alderley to victory by 4 wickets.
On Sunday Alderley's third XI concluded their season with a loss to Hyde at Werneth Low. Winning the toss and batting, Alderley amassed a strong 290-7 with Joey Chong (93), Ashray Bhamidipati (78 n.o.) and Mike Higginson (59) all passing the half century mark for the visitors in quick time. Martin Coyne was the pick of the home attack collecting 4-77. The hosts started strongly in their run chase with an opening stand of 134 between Ben Balderson and Ben Turner before Turner was dismissed for 70 off 55 balls. Balderson went on to complete a fine unbeaten century to lead the Hyde to victory in the company of Charlie Hewitt who finished unbeaten on 54 from just 28 balls. The loss should not take the shine off what has been another very season for a young and talented team who finished runners-up in a strong third XI competition.
Alderley had further reason to celebrate ahead of the weekend with two First XI regulars helping Cheshire to national honours last week with victory over Devon in the Minor Counties One Day Cup Final at Wormsley in Buckinghamshire. Calum Rowe and Ed Fluck both starred with the bat in Cheshire's victory, Rowe top scoring with 58 and Fluck striking 54 from just 48 balls in Cheshire's total of 248-7. In a tense finale Devon fell 2 runs short after requiring 7 runs from the final over of the game. Alderley's congratulations go to Calum, Ed and the rest of the Cheshire side on a fine performance and a great season in both white ball formats, the T20 side having reached the final of the Minor Counties competition on August Bank Holiday Monday losing out to Berkshire in the final.
Match report by Andrew Windle.