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Spencer and Chester-le-Street in to final

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As England clinched the npower Ashes series with a stunning win over Australia at The Brit Oval, Spencer CC and Chester-le-Street CC sealed their places in the final of the ECB National Club Championship - being hosted at the County Ground, Derby on September 19.

In the semi-final in the South West Bath CC welcomed Spencer CC to North Parade on the hottest day of 2009. After winning the toss and electing to field, things started well for the visitors with Stuart Prisscott removed for two caught by wicket keeper, and captain, Neil Baker off the bowling of Patrick Foster.

From here Spencer took wickets at regular intervals, not allowing Bath to form a significant partnership until 55 was added for the seventh wicket. This left Bath posting 175 for eight from their allotted overs, with wicket keeper Steve Griffiths top scoring with 40 not out, ably supported by James Campbell (34), Robin Lett (32) and Ben Staunton (25).

Chester-le-Street

Chester-le-Street overcame Shrewsbury in front of a big crowd to book a place in the final on September 19

Paul Byrne (2-18); Jimmy Birt (2-30) and Patrick Turk (2-38) did the damage for Spencer, with good tight bowling during which only two wides were bowled to ensure that they would be in the box seat for the second innings.

Spencer’s reply got off to a solid start with openers Andrew Mawson and Chris Thomas adding 39 for the first wicket before Thomas was caught by James Campbell off the bowling of Mark Thornbury for 16.

Mawson was joined at the crease by Spencer captain Baker and the two Spencer players took the score to 122 when Mawson was dismissed for a well made 58 by Lloyd Davies. A slight wobble followed where four wickets were lost for 38 runs, but unfortunately for the hosts Baker held firm and guided his side to the final with an unbeaten 65 off 98 balls, which included 10 fours. Mark Thornbury was the pick of the Bath bowlers with 2-41.

Chester-le-Street CC overcame Shrewsbury CC in the other semi-final taking place at London Road, Shrewsbury. Chester-le-Street won the toss and decided to bat first in this crucial match. But it was the hosts who started the game the brighter with opening bowler Mike Barnard making the first breakthrough with Alan Mustard being caught by Ed Foster for seven.

Andrew Smith joined Simon Birtwistle at the crease and the pair added 96 for the second wicket before Smith was out stumped by Ryan Bishop off Elliot Green. This brought the competition's leading run scorer Richard Waite to the wicket.

The Chester-le-Street pair added just 17 before Birtwistle was the next man out caught by Mike Bernard off the bowling of Elliot Green. From here Waite had able support from Quentin Hughes (15), John Coxon (25) and Liam Simpson (35 not out) as he blasted his way to 110 off 70 balls with nine fours and six sixes.

This onslaught meant that Chester-le-Street posted a formidable 319 for six off 45 overs with Waite dismissed with the final ball of the innings in the process of scoring his second century in this year’s competition.

It is always tough to bowl at a player in such good form, but the Shrewsbury bowlers stuck to their task, with Tom Allin picking up Waite’s wicket in his nine overs finishing with 2-54. Elliot Green also picked up two wickets finishing with 2-49.

In a tough run chase a good start is always needed, but unfortunately for Shrewsbury they lost skipper Ed Foster for just five, with 17 on the board, caught by David Wilson off the bowling of Andrew Tye.

Wicket-keeper Ryan Bishop was joined in the middle by Will Parton where the pair started to build the Shrewsbury reply. They added 56 before Bishop was bowled by that man Waite for 45 leaving Shrewsbury on 73 for two.

Three wickets then fell for just 36 runs (Will Parton 24, Rob Foster 17 and Daniel Manders 7), leaving Shrewsbury five down still 210 behind their visitors from Durham.

Joe Leach and Tom Allin then tried to rebuild the innings adding 34 for the sixth wicket but Allin was dismissed for a brisk 19 by Quentin Hughes, bringing in Matthew McKeever who formed first a good partnership with Joe Leach (44) and then with Alex Blofield (26) guiding the hosts from 143 for six to 259 for eight.

But in the end the chase was too much for Shrewsbury who finished on a respectable 279 for nine with McKeever finishing unbeaten on 62.