By Dan Riley
The nervous first look out of the curtains on Saturday confirmed the weather predictions: rain. But the rain was neither heavy nor expected to last and if there's a game anywhere, it's always most likely to be Chester with the combination of fantastic equipment to covering mop the square, excellent drainage and super Alex Kegg orchestrating things.
When the call went out to Alderley Edge to say that there would be a game, there was a mixture of happiness at the thought of cricket and disbelief at the thought of cricket because it was bouncing it down there and continued to do so along the M56. When the covers went back and the pitch was bone-dry, the umpire and most of the players raised an eye brow and grinned at the prospect of play.
80 overs a-side and Chester winning the toss so the Alderley Edge batters were asked to have first crack. Bobby, Joe Killoran and Jake Liddell took the field in place of Metcalf, Wyatt and Wyatt. The three front line seamers Brayno, Wiggy and Sam Mallows looked intent on making inroads with Dan keen on limiting runs to as few as possible. News filtered through that Nantwich v Neston was off so a win would be not only marvellous but would see Chester go top.
Brayno bowled beautifully for the second week running. Not as much swing as usual but just enough and with seam movement too to further complicate the batters task. Wiggy sprang in with the wind in his face and got movement too at a decent lick and with news getting round that there was a game on, spectators gathered as much in disbelief than anything.
As well as the youngsters bowled, wickets were as hard to come by as other matches in Cheshire and 65 for 0 from 17 seemed almost unfair. Dan Riley and Sam Mallows resumed their partnership of the previous week which yielded 7 wickets and they both struck early. Sam removed Lambert for a gutsy 36 superbly caught one-handed by Joe Killoran the 'keeper and then Dan bowled number 3 Cunliff for 0. The experienced pair continued to tie the batters in knots and the field assisted whenever required before Dan removed danger man Bell LBW for an excellent 44. Then next ball another and the collapse had begun. Archie Vaughan looked completely bewildered by Dan's slow swingers and promptly edged one to Joe Killer from Sam down the other end in the next over for 0.
The 'Baldies' wheeled away and reduced the Edge to 108 for 9 before a change was made and Fishy bowled his Chinamen and Brayno then finished things off with a much deserved wicket bowling Katie Hazeldine off an inside edge. 109 seemed infinitely chaseable and batters saw an opportunity for red-inked runs. Dan finished with 5 for 26 from 9 and Sam 4 for 26 from 9. Quality bowling backed up by Joe Killoran in particular who took 5 good catches and conceded no byes: power keeping at its best!
At tea, which is becoming particularly beige at Chester this season, it was decided that Dil would switch with Noah so that he could open with Luke. Jake promoted to number 3 too. As weak as the batting had been, the two opening bowlers for Alderley Edge looked good. Fesmer and Pickup stomped in and hit the pitch hard inducing an edge from Luke which was spilled. Once the openers departed though, the runs came easily and the gathered crowd enjoyed some super stroke play as Jon Usher shuffled his pack.
The Chester batters both hit the ball hard and Luke punched through backward point for 4 on a couple of occasions with classy shots whilst Noah played a glorious on-drive down the ground for a sumptuous 4. They were never really troubled by the 7 bowlers tried. Plenty of 4s and good running were the hallmarks of the first hundred plus opening stand this year and it was only right that firstly Noah and then Luke went through to 50. Noah then belted a full toss away for 4 to seal the win and ascend to the top of the table. Ten wicket wins don't happen very often but they're never unwanted. Solid display all round.
MotM - Joe Killoran for his excellent grabs behind the stumps and for no byes for the second game on the bounce that he's kept in.
DotD - Noah and his turkey knowledge.