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Goodwin leads Cheshire fightback

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Warren Goodwin

Opener Warren Goodwin had 37 at the close as Cheshire reached 77 without loss in reply to Buckinghamshire's 369 for five at Slough CC © David Bailey

Cheshire battled back after a tough start to the Minor Counties Championship final against Buckinghamshire at Slough CC.

Gunning to win their fourth championship title in nine seasons, Cheshire lost the toss and the hosts benefited from a flat pitch to post a respectable 369 for five from their allotted 90 overs.

But some excellent batting from opening pair Warren Goodwin and Rick Moore saw Cheshire finish the day in style as they ended on 77 without loss from 17 overs.

Chester Boughton Hall opener Goodwin finished unbeaten on 37, while opening partner Rick Moore, who plays for Oulton Park in the Cheshire County League, was not out on 25 at the close of play.

Earlier in the day Cheshire's bowlers toiled hard to take wickets on a placid pitch, but perseverance paid off for Oulton Park off-spinner Nathan Dumelow as he returned figures of 2-126 from 30 overs, while Neston seamer Chris Finegan also impressed with a 2-70 return from 20 overs.

Bowdon's left-arm opening bowler Adam Syddall also claimed a wicket as he finished with a 1-83 return from 18 overs.

Off-spinners Dan Berry, from Hyde, and Alderley Edge seamer Jason Whittaker worked hard for the Cheshire cause, while part-time off-spinner David Hurst, who plays with Finegan at Neston, also got a chance to bowl an over, but it was always going to be difficult to take wickets on a batsman friendly pitch.

That said Cheshire were left counting the cost of a dropped catch. Opening batsman Fahim Quershi, playing on his home club ground, had made 30 when Syddall unfortunately dropped him off Dumelow's bowling.

The left-handed Qureshi, who has represented Middlesex 2nd XI, went on to make an impressive 162 from 267 balls. His innings included 23 fours.

Having dismissed other opener Richard Hopwood for 35, with the score on 77, Quershi and Bucks skipper Jason Harrison then shared in a second-wicket partnership of 154 as the hosts built themselves a strong position by tea on the opening day.

With 15 overs left when the two teams returned, Cheshire did well to restrict Bucks to under 400 having been well-placed for a much bigger score.

Harrison, who played for Lincolnshire when Cheshire shared the title with them in 2001, was out for 101, his 170-ball innings included 10 fours and two sixes.

Bucks vice-captain Paul Sawyer also chipped in with a useful 39 in the closing overs, while 25 runs came as extras.

That left Cheshire to bat 17 overs and avoid the loss of any wickets - and Goodwin and Moore dug deep to make sure this year's Western Division winners start with all ten of their wickets in tact ahead of the second day's play.

"We had to work really hard in the field, it was a hard pitch for the bowlers, but I thought we stuck at it really well," reflected Cheshire skipper Andy Hall, appearing in his fourth championship final.

"It's a very flat pitch, if we'd have won the toss we'd have batted, but we need well to restrict them [Bucks] to under 400, that could have easily happened.

"And it was really important we didn't lost any wickets, Warren and Rick batted really well to see us to the close.

"They scored quickly as well, so hopefully tomorrow we can have another good start and get a decent total on the board."