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Cheshire target trophy success

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Cheshire are hoping to go one better than in 2007 when they lost in the trophy final - but remain focused on their first game

Cheshire begin their Minor Counties campaign on Sunday with an eagerly-anticipated home clash with Shropshire in the MCCA Trophy.

Finalists last in 2007, a new-look Cheshire side - which will include two debutants - are keen to start with a victory at Marple Cricket Club.

With three other trophy matches scheduled for this month, skipper Andy Hall wants his side to make the best possible start.

"We really want to do well in the knockout trophy this season," he said. "Getting to the final in 2007 and playing at Lord's was a great achievement for the county.

"It was a shame we didn't win the final, but that's made us more determined than we win the trophy this season.

"We had a couple of defeats in our qualifying group last season - and you can't really afford to lose any games because it's really hard to qualify.

"But that's the challenge which we're all looking forward too. If we can be successful in the trophy then I'm sure that will give us the confidence to do well in the Championship."

Last season Hall's side reached the Minor Counties Championship final, but failed to qualify for the quarter-final stages of the trophy after losing two of their four group games.

There was plenty to smile about with excellent wins against Cumberland and Bedfordshire, but it was defeats at home to Oxfordshire and away to Shropshire which cost them the chance to progress.

"We started well last season but then had those two defeats before we beat Bedfordshire in our last match," added Hall.

"It would be great to have a good run in the Trophy competition this season, we've got a strong squad with a few welcome additions.

"It's going to be a good test for us, but it's really important we start well and hopefully build from there."

Promising youngster Louis Bentley, who played for Cheshire Under-19s last season, has been handed the chance to shine on debut.

Bentley impressed last season for his club Oulton Park, as well as the for the representative side.

Macclesfield bowler James Hawley has been given a chance to impress, with new signing Richard Logan - formerly of Surrey - will also make his debut.

Cheshire will be without Chris Finegan this season, the Neston all-rounder having retired from Minor Counties cricket.

Fellow all-rounder Jason Whittaker has retired from the three-day format, but could feature in some of the counties' one-day trophy fixtures.