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Cheshire lose despite Kettle century

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Jonny Kettle

Jonny Kettle's impressive century was not enough as Cheshire lost to Cornwall for the first time since 1983 © Derrick Hastings

Jonny Kettle’s century proved to be in vain as Cheshire suffered an early setback in their MCCA Championship title challenge after a six-wicket defeat to Cornwall at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club.

Kettle struck 139 as Cheshire were bowled out for 279 in their second innings to leave Cornwall a victory target of just 140.

Despite struggling on 39 for two, Matthew Robins steered the visitors to victory inside 23 overs with an unbeaten 59 as Cheshire dropped from second to fifth in the current Western Division standings.

But with four games remaining Cheshire skipper Andy Hall knows there's plenty of time to get their title quest back on track, especially with group leaders Berkshire just 21 points clear at the top following two successive victories.

"We can still win the title, but we've made life hard for ourselves," said Hall. "We've got to win three of four remaining games as a minimum if we're going to win the Championship, maybe even four out of four.

"But one thing's for sure, we're going to have to play a lot better than we did against Cornwall.

"There were a few decent performances, especially from Kettle and Danny Berry, but our middle order is just not functioning. Our betting let us down, we know we need to improve there."

Having lost the toss, Cheshire were inserted on a wet pitch and struggled as they slipped to 123 for eight, despite opener Warren Goodwin’s 53 and all-rounder Danny Berry, batting at number eight, hitting 63.

Berry and spinner Danny Wood made a battling ninth-wicket partnership of 68 but Cheshire were bowled out for a below-par score of 217 inside 64 overs.

In reply, Cheshire bowled well and had Cornwall tottering at 188 for eight only for two partnerships to help Cornwall establish an unlikely lead of 140.

A ninth-wicket partnership of 77 between Cornwall skipper Tom Sharp, who contributed 77, and James Rowe, was followed by a final wicket stand of 92 between Ben Kitt and Rowe.

Kitt top-scored with 94 from 100 balls while Rowe made an unbeaten 44.

Batting for a second time, Cheshire lost three wickets for 33 runs as they slipped to 99 for five before opener Kettle helped the hosts get past the 200-mark.

Kettle's impressive 139 came off as many balls as he and Berry shared a seventh wicket partnership of 75, before putting on 54 with Adam Syddall to take Cheshire to 264 for eight.

But Hall's side lost their next two wickets for just 15 runs and left Cornwall only 140 runs for victory.

Cornwall struggled early on but Robins led his side to victory with a crucial innings to ensure Cornwall collected 24 points and their first win over Cheshire in 25 attempts.

Next up for Cheshire is a three-day game against former Championship winners Devon at Torquay Cricket Club, starting on July 10.