The reigning champions of Cheshire would be a massive scalp to take, and would help Hyde's incredible start to the season continue. Upon losing the toss, Doyle invited Hyde to bat first.
Partridge opened up with Luke Young and the pair got Hyde off to a dream start. Both left-handers pounced on any ball that strayed from the intended line and length, and pushed Hyde along, adding 49 for the first wicket. The bowling partnership of Stockton and Spencer slowed the scoring right down, offering very little for the batsmen. It was Young who was to depart first, adjudged to be LBW off the bowling of Stockton. Partridge wasn't far behind him, trying to go over the top to relieve some of the pressure, only to be caught by Johnston on the edge of the ring, once again off the bowling of Stockton. Balderson and Duffy were together at the crease, and the scoring remained very slow, as Nantwich's bowlers continued to pressurise the Batsmen. Duffy received a bit of luck when he was dropped by Warrington, who did all the hard work diving for the ball, but it didn't survive the grounding. The turning point in the innings came around the 30th over, when it appeared that a switch flipped in the minds of both batsmen. While the bowlers still managed to produce intermittent maidens, you sensed that the batsmen held the momentum. Both Duffy and Balderson passed the half century mark in a partnership of 109, which was broken when Duffy was caught by Stockton off the bowling of Doyle for a brilliant 61, and by then Hyde were looking to put on quick runs to push the total over 220, and maximum batting points. Elliot Young joined Balderson at the crease, and added 11 at over a run a ball, before he was caught by Johnston, also off the bowling of Doyle. 180/4 and Hyde were looked like they were in a strong position to post a commanding total, but Fisher went early, after not being able to get going. Balderson finally departed for 52 after he managed to pick out Wardley off the bowling of Spencer, and Allcock found Brown from Doyle. 214/7 and a score of 230+ appeared to be on the cards. Turner was trapped LBW and Cranmer was bowled, both by Spencer, but Hannah and Whittaker saw out the remaining balls, guiding Hyde to 232/9.
Hyde are blessed to have such a varied bowling attack, which has been used effectively as a pack in previous games. In this instance, however, only two would be required. Hannah and Whittaker opened, and in stark contrast to the fast scoring at the top of the Hyde innings, Nantwich didn't score a run off the bat for 4 overs. Interrupting this slow start was Hannah, who removed Johnston with a Jaffa, bowling him. The very next over, Whittaker struck, trapping Brown in front and bowling Robinson for a second ball quacker. Nantwich were reeling at 2/3, and needed some structure urgently. Doyle and Dobson toiled away, in an effort to prevent a collapse. They occupied the crease for 10 overs, adding a precious 25 to the score, but it came to a thundering stop when Hannah took his 2nd, removing the Nantwich skipper by uprooting his off peg, and sending it cartwheeling in general direction of the cordon. Whittaker, never one to be out done, produced the best over that I have ever seen the very next over. He went to his 5fer when he removed Dobson, Cook-Sievewright and Spencer in a single over, which wen 2W2W.W. 31/7, and Nantwich were staring down a defeat just shy of 200 runs. And it got even worse for them when Stockton tamely chipped Hannah straight to Cranmer, 35/8. Wardley's resistance ended when Hannah got his 4th by uprooting his 2nd stump of the afternoon and Nantwich's innings concluded when a rare full toss from Whittaker to Griffiths picked out the man in the deep, leaving Nantwich 56 all out. Whittaker finishing with 6 and Hannah with 4.
This entire game stunned me. Hyde put on a total performance which they have been threatening to do all season, batting patiently and reading the conditions, to build a commanding total on a difficult batting track. Bowling wise, while we had 4 bowlers who are capable of taking wickets, they were surplus to requirement as Whittaker and Hannah dominated. Hyde took full advantage of a Chester misstep to go top and, after the team performance, deservedly so. This victory over the reigning champions is a message to all other Cheshire Prem sides, saying that Hyde a capable of beating each and every one of them.
By James Howe