Despite being shorn of a number of senior players, Alderley Edge First XI successfully defended their Cheshire T20 crown on Sunday at the Cheshire Finals Day held at a sweltering Whitehouse Lane in Nantwich. Drawn in the second semi-final against Hyde, Alderley skipper Ed Foster won the toss and elected to bowl first and saw his seamers quickly reducing the Werneth Low outfit to 37-4 on the back of Andrew Windle's 3-18 and with the dangerous Andy Jackson back in the shed, dismissed by Richard Wilkinson.
Number 5 David Fitzsimmons hit 44 from 32 balls and along with skipper Danny Cranmer, who struck 24 from number 6, rallied Hyde to 133-7 before Fitzsimmons fell to Dan Fesmer. Tight bowling in the death overs from Naylor and Alan Day saw Hyde close on 141-8.
Alderley's reply didn't have the best of starts with experimental opener Fesmer removed first ball by Cramner but Naylor, promoted up the order, put Alderley on their way striking 34 from 20 balls in adding 61 for the second wicket with Sam Perry. Perry hit a well-measured 76 from 55 balls in providing the bulk of Alderley's reply as the Moss Lane men reached their target for the loss of just 3 wickets in the 17th over.
In the final Alderley met Chester Boughton Hall who had negotiated their way past hosts Nantwich via an 18-run victory in the first semi-final of the day. Foster again won the toss and elected to bowl with Alan Day striking in the first over to reduce Chester to 13-1. Captain James Duffy exhibited some brutal hitting along with Warren Goodwin as the pair picked up the pace as Chester raced to 77-1 inside 6 overs.
Alderley fought back with some great spells from Dan Fesmer (2-27) who claimed Duffy for 40 off 19 balls, Alan Day (2-19) and James Naylor (2-33) who removed middle order lynchpins Alex Money and Rick Moore in the same over. Alderley's never-say-die approach saw them close out the Chester innings for 197-7 representing a substantial fightback when a score in excess of 250 was looking a real possibility earlier in proceedings.
In reply Alderley started steadily with Naylor again given licence at the top of the order as he and Sam Perry added 22 before Naylor fell caught behind and when Will Valentine was bowled by Alex Money with the score on 40-2 Chester appeared to be climbing into the box seat. What followed was a quite sublime partnership of 142 between Perry and Foster that wrestled control of the match completely in Alderley's favour. Both showed great stamina in continually taking on the fielders in the ring and running two's to Chester's outfielders as the hot conditions continued into the evening before upping the boundary count following the mid-innings drinks break.
Chester's captain made several bowling changes in vain until a mix-up between the pair left Foster stranded to be run-out for a superb 59 off 34 balls with Alderley 16 short of victory. With some final touches of inch perfect placement, helped by some uncharacteristically ragged Chester fielding, Perry added the finishing touches to his man-of-the-match performance, clipping a leg side boundary over the advancing infield with two balls to spare to claim a well-deserved hundred and take Alderley to the title by a margin of 7 wickets. Alderley will now go on to represent Cheshire in the NationalT20 competition aiming to better their semi-final exit in last year's tournament.
Alderley's T20 success came hot on the heels of a routing of Oxton at Moss Lane in the Cheshire County Premier League on Saturday which handed the hosts another 7-wicket win. Winning the toss stand-in skipper Ed Foster again unleashed his bowlers first with James Naylor (4-28), Foster himself (3-30) and Andrew Windle (2-28 from 16 straight overs into the Saharan breeze), combined to shoot out the Wirral side for just 97, with ex-Australian international Joe Mennie the only man to make a mark with the bat hitting 35 from number 3. In Reply 33 from Foster opening up with Sam Perry, who hit 27, set Alderley on course with a quick-fire 33 not out from number George Bell seeing Alderley over the line in the 19th over, Jordan Collier taking 2-33 for Oxton.
At Whitehouse Lane on Saturday Alderley's Second XI came up against third placed Nantwich who asked the visitors to bat first after winning the toss. Scores of 38 from number 3 Ashray Bhamidipati and 45 from skipper Jon Usher at number 7 helped Alderley to 163 all out as Simon Till's 5-45 for the home side curtailed Alderley's scoring. In reply 63 from number 3 Robert Cook-Sievewright and 42 from opener Haaris Mahmood were the main contributions as Nantwich reached their target for the loss of 3 wickets with Alderley taking 5 points to Nantwich's 25.
On Sunday Alderley's Third XI endured a difficult afternoon at Stockport Georgians resulting in a 9-wicket loss. Winning the toss Alderley elected to bat first but 4 wickets from Jonah Wall and 3 apiece for Ali Mudassar and James Tilley were enough to skittle Alderley's young line up for 121 with Mike Higginson's 33 and Callum Wilson's 29 the only pair to land any blows of note. Georgians cruised to the total on the back of opener Jon Keogh's 59 not out and James Maher's unbeaten 48.
Match report by Andrew Windle.