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STAFFORDSHIRE CCC v. LINCOLNSHIRE CCC
For their final Unicorns (Eastern Division) Championship fixture of the season, Lincolnshire travelled to Knypersley near Stoke to play Staffordshire. Lincs were in second place prior to this match commencing, two points behind Northumberland who were at home to Cambridgeshire. Lincolnshire brought Dominic Brown into the side replacing the unavailable Louis Kimber, and Matt Carter replaced James Kimber.
Staffordshire won the toss and elected to bat. Martin Weightman dismissed opener Sam Kelsall with the total on 20 before Kadeer Ali and Tom Steele added 97 for the second wicket to leave Staffordshire on 117 for 2. The home side’s scoring rate at this stage was a modest one but when Tim Maxfield joined Kadeer Ali the tempo increased as they added 107 for the fourth wicket. Kadeer Ali was dismissed by Martin Weightman for 111 and Maxfield by Matt Carter for 95. The home side’s eighth wicket fell at 327, but the vital ninth wicket could not be taken as Paul Byrne (32 not out) and Greg Willett (27 not out) added an unbeaten 55 to leave Staffordshire on 382 for 8 after their allotted 90 overs. Martin Weightman with 4 for 70 was Lincs most successful bowler. Lincolnshire had 17 overs to negotiate before the close of play on day one, and Jonny Tattersall and Harry Warwick saw them safely to 51 for none by the close.
Lincolnshire’s minimum target on day two was 325 to ensure maximum batting points. Harry Warwick fell early with the total on 54, then Conrad Louth and Jonny Tattersall added 85 before Louth was dismissed for 46. Dominic Brown joined Tattersall and the total passed 200 before Tattersall was caught behind for 88. Brown and Tillcock then added 83 before Tillcock was caught behind for 33 in 35 balls. Brown reached a fine century and finished on 123 not out including eleven fours and four sixes as Lincolnshire declared on 346 for 5 off 84 overs, a deficit of 36 runs, but with maximum four batting points in the bag. Staffordshire commenced their second innings just before tea on day two, and Alex Willerton dismissed the dangerous Kadeer Ali with the score 7 for 1. After tea Lincs gained a stranglehold on the game as Willerton tore through the top order and they slumped to 94 for 7, closing the day on 102 for 7, a lead of 138.
Overnight news was that Northumberland, whilst gaining maximum four bowling points, had only secured one batting point so the teams were now level on points. If Lincolnshire could force victory, their vastly superior run rate would see them as champions even if Northumberland won.
On day three the Staffordshire tail-enders showed considerable resistance adding a precious 68 to their overnight total before being dismissed for 170, leaving Lincolnshire a victory target of 207. Alex Willerton with 4 for 31 was Lincs outstanding bowler. Lincs set about their task in attacking mode, and despite losing the early wicket of Harry Warwick, took a firm grip on the match. Tattersall and Louth added 122 for the second wicket before Tattersall was caught for 57. Louth continued to attack, finishing with 112 not out off 73 balls, including twelve fours and four sixes, and together with Dominic Brown seeing Lincolnshire to victory by eight wickets in mid-afternoon.
Lincolnshire took 23 points from the match and, despite Northumberland beating Cambridgeshire by two wickets, Lincolnshire were Eastern Division champions by virtue of their superior run rate. They will now meet Western Division champions Berkshire in a four-day fixture commencing on Sunday, 28 August at Wormsley, the picturesque ground built by Sir Paul Getty inside his massive 2500 acre estate in Buckinghamshire.
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