Cricket: Alderley's T20 Odyssey ends in national semi-final

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A historic run in the National T20 competition for Alderley Edge's 1st XI T20 side came to an end at the last four stage on Sunday at Denby Cricket Club in Derbyshire in the Northern Region Finals Day.

In the opening game of the day Alderley played Appleby Frodingham CC, the winners of the Yorkshire regional final, in the first quarter-final electing to bat first. Some big hitting from opener Ed Fluck, striking 36 from just 18 balls including two sixes, helped Alderley set an early platform with an opening stand of 49.

Ed Foster and Richard Wilkinson added 32 for the third wicket, cleverly manipulating the field and managing the pace of Appleby's West Indian overseas player Jamar Ifil before George Bell added a quickfire 29 from 19 balls (2 sixes) putting on 41 with Wilkinson for the fourth wicket. Wilkinson finished the innings unbeaten on 45 from 35 balls in the company of Chris Sanders who smashed 32 not out from 14 balls, including two maximums off the final two balls of the innings, for Alderley to close on 182-4.

Jamar Ifil and Matthew Fowler took Appleby to 36 before the first wicket fell with Ifil well caught in the deep by Ed Fuck amid blustery conditions for the players. Fowler continued to find the boundary in amassing 47 from 26 balls before falling to Will Valentine who held a good return catch to dismiss the Appleby skipper. Alex Grimes fell soon afterwards to give Valentine 2-31 from his 4 overs reducing the Yorkshiremen to 81-4.

A fifth wicket partnership of 51 was broken by an excellent run out from wicketkeeper George Bell whose direct hit with one stump to aim at dismissed Jordan Cook who had struck 4 maximums in his 36 from just 21 balls, Appleby falling from 132-5 to 136-7 as Alderley rallied. A late flourish of 29 off 16 balls from number 9 Keiran Watson kept things tight in the closing stages but two wickets in the final over for Chris Sanders, finishing with 3-31, took the Cheshire champions into the semi-final winning by 9 runs.

In the semi-final Alderley faced Barnard Castle CC, winners of the North East area T20 who had beaten Westhoughton in the second quarter-final. Winning the toss Alderley decided to bat first again but were soon in trouble at 14-3. A fighting knock of 41 from opener Sam Perry helped Alderley up to 62-4 but with Barnard's bowlers striking regularly and the Northumbrian side's sharp fielding controlling the game Alderley struggled to make an impact with the bat, Chris Sanders threatening with 17 from 10 balls and Charlie Reid hitting 22 to close on 135-9. Alan Day struck with the fifth ball of the second innings to give Alderley a brief glimmer of hope but in the fading light and heavy drizzle a spectacular knock of 83 from 47 balls from Barnard's Indian First Class professional Samarth Seth compounded Alderley's misery taking Barnard Castle to victory by 9 wickets in the 13th over with opener Finn Usher unbeaten on 35.

Despite the result Alderley's team can be immensely proud of their run in this competition which has produced some marvellous cricket during the campaign and, with a number of young players with real promise emerging this season, should harbour ambitions of reaching such heights again in this format of the game in the future.

On Saturday, in Cheshire County League action, Alderley suffered a heavy defeat to Chester Boughton Hall who won the toss and batted first on a murky day at Filkins Lane. After the start was delayed because of rain, reducing the contest to 40-overs per side, openers Warren Goodwin and Rick Moore put on 47 for the first wicket before Goodwin was bowled through the gate by Andrew Windle. Moore, who hit 70, then added 94 with number 3 Alex Money (43) before becoming Windle's second wicket of the day, the seamer finishing with 2-41 from 10 overs.

From 160-3 a spell of 2-45 from stand-in skipper Ed Foster helped Alderley slow the rate of scoring for a time in the middle overs but Chester skipper Harry Kiloran's 56 from just 37 balls including 10 boundaries and Atif Quereshi's 32 from 28 balls helped Chester step on the accelerator at the back end of their innings to close on 250-5. Wickets fell regularly from the start of Alderley's reply as the visitors struggled to build any meaningful partnerships with 5-32 from Luke Young keeping the momentum from the first innings with the home side. Scores of 27 from number 3 George Bell and 24 from number 6 Will Valentine provided some brief high points and despite some tail-end fireworks from Dan Fesmer, who struck two big sixes in finishing on 18 not out from 8 balls, Alderley were shot out for a disappointing 133 giving Chester victory by 117 runs.

In the reverse fixture at Moss Lane Alderley's Second XI picked up more crucial points with an 8 wicket win as they continue to turn their season around. Chester won the toss and elected to bat first in another game curtailed to 40 overs by rain, but Alderley's opening pair of Ashray Bhamidipati and Ben Chapman seized the initiative to leave the visitors reeling at 20-3. The spin of Alan Day and Mark Warnes caused further problems for Chester who continued to lose wickets dropping to 65-6.

A partnership of 75 for the seventh wicket between skipper Dan Riley (27) and Matty Brayne, who top scored with 55, allowed Chester to finish on 145-7. An unbeaten 80 from Alderley opener Alan Day provided the mainstay of the reply, supported by 25 from Dil Yahathugoda as the hosts completed their chase for the loss of two wickets in the 29th over, the 25 points victory lifting Alderley out of the relegation zone in the Second XI Premier Division.

On Sunday Alderley's Third XI completed a four wicket victory over Toft who started the day in second place in the league. Winning the toss and bowling first Alderley controlled the scoring rate to keep Toft to 198-5 with opener George Muirhead scoring 84, Sam Woolf leading the way with the ball picking up 3-37.

With the hosts happy with their progress after 43 overs they declared to hand an extra two overs to Alderley to chase down the 199 required. Alderley started positively with opener Calum Wilson hitting 53 and number 3 Ashray Bhamidipati striking 44. Two quick wickets from Gohar Rashid pegged things back for Toft but from 130-4 a composed 65 not out from number 6 Ben Chapman saw Alderley home with 6 overs to spare.

Match report by Andrew Windle.