Cricket: Alderley seal premier league title despite Grappenhall defeat

Team Photo at Grappenhall - 16th September

Alderley Edge First XI secured their first Cheshire County Premier League title since 2016 claiming the bonus points they required despite a 96-run loss at Grappenhall on Saturday.

Winning the toss, the hosts elected to bat first on a green surface that played better in the first innings than its appearance suggested. Opener Andrew Windle claimed two early wickets (2-55 from 14 overs) with Chris Sanders and Jimmy Naylor both also striking as Alderley reduced the hosts to 79-4 before two key partnerships lifted Grappenhall out of trouble the first seeing overseas number 4 Tom MacRury striking a number of big hits in making 76 from 79 balls in an 86-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Ben Bodha.

Liam Yahathugoda bowled a steady spell after the drinks break to help Alderley curtail the rising scoring rate, claiming the wicket of MacRury following which Bodha continued in a partnership of 69 for the sixth wicket with Ed Barnes before eventually being dismissed for 64, well caught by Yahathugoda himself off Chris Sanders.

Yahathugoda and Sanders repeated their double act to remove Keiran Lawton a few balls later, giving Sanders 3-54 from 12 overs, as Alderley gathered some momentum towards the end of the innings helped by another economical spell from Dan Fesmer who was unlucky to go wicketless from his 10 overs to close out the innings.

Grappenhall closed on 246-9 with Ed Barnes' run out off the final ball of the innings for 35, via direct throw from Sanders, proving crucial in helping Alderley take maximum bowling points in the first half of the game with second-placed Didsbury already having rolled over Nantwich for 50 and chased down their score earlier in the afternoon.

In the second innings, Alderley began steadily in reaching 57-1 before losing skipper Sam Perry for 29 as Grappenhall turned to the spin of MacRury and Arav Shetty with the wicket beginning to show indifferent bounce and some sharp turn for the pair.

Both took full advantage of the conditions in claiming the next 5 wickets, 3-30 for MacRury and 2-20 for Shetty, for the addition of just 19 runs as Alderley suffered the worst-timed collapse of the season.

To the rescue came number 6 Chris Sanders and number 7 Tom Foreman who both counter-attacked fluently in compiling the key partnership of 59 runs to take Alderley's score past the 130 required for the additional batting point that secured them the league title.

Sanders fell first for 37 from just 33 balls, including 3 maximums, followed shortly after by Foreman for a timely 24 from 29 with the score on 136-8 with the party already beginning on the sidelines amongst the travelling supporters.

Alderley's tail were quickly swept up as the champions-elect closed on 150 all out to fall to a disappointing 96-run loss but celebrations for the team soon started as Sam Perry was presented with the Cheshire County League Winners Trophy and flag to cap off an impressive first season as Captain.

At Moss Lane on Saturday Alderley's Second XI finished their season with a nail-biter as opponents Heaton Mersey claimed victory by two wickets off the final ball of the match. Winning the toss Alderley elected to bat first with a strong showing from the middle order turning things around for the hosts after falling to 40-3 in the early stages.

A knock off 55 from 74 balls from number 5 Jon Steele provided the backbone of Alderley's innings with Henry Stevinson hitting 44 and Dil Yahathugoda 35 from number 7 to lift them to 204-7 from their 50 overs, Abbas Shah picking up 3-40 to lead the Heaton Mersey attack.

A strong start in reply from openers Rob Linsey (33) and Alishan Khan (42) took Heaton Mersey to 99-1 as they laid a solid platform in the second innings before skipper Alan Day led the fightback with the ball for Alderley, taking three quick wickets to reduce the visitors to 109-4.

A quickfire 29 from Luke Lewis and 36 from 35 balls from number 7 Faisal Maqsood began to swing the momentum in Heaton Mersey's favour before both were dismissed by Alfie Usher and Ollie Kenyon respectively to set up a tense finish.

Mersey skipper Abbas Shah proved up to the task hitting a composed 12 not out as the visitors hit the 5 runs required off the final over, reaching their target with a single off the last ball of the game to claim the 25-point victory. The 11 points Alderley claimed helped them to secure a creditable top-half finish landing in 6th position.

Match report by Andrew Windle.