Cheshire title race wide open

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Rain returned to Booths Park to deprive Hyde of almost certain victory – and top place in the Chapel Press Cheshire Premier League - at Toft while leaders Oxton pocketed more points from their defeat at Nantwich to extend their lead.

The title issue remains wide open and with seven weeks go, only 40 points separates the leaders from reigning champions Nantwich, at sixth

Toft were indebted to Josh Hancock for their tally of 209 for eight at Booths Park, the Aussie opener carrying his bat for a fine 102, with Rob Jones (27) the next highest scorer.

Hyde had reached 187 for five in 39.4 overs when a thunderstorm washed out further play, James Duffy 51, Chris Tipper 51 not out, Rob Jones 3-70.

Oxton lost by four wickets at Nantwich despite posting 250, their highest tally of the summer.

Top batsmen were Lou Vincent, 89 and Chris Davies, 52 who took the score from 18 for two to 160 for three, while Dabbers’ skipper Andy Newton, who consistently underbowls himself, just missed a hat-trick in a 3-32 return.

Lou Vincent

Lou Vincent struck 89 In Nantwich victory

Louis Bentley played his best innings of the season in a reply of 254 for six with eight overs to spare, the talented Lancashire left-hander closing on 113 not out aided by number eight Jimmy Warrington with a rapid unbeaten 51, the pair putting on an unbroken 74 to clinch a notable victory.

Lou Vincent has landed a full-time contract two-year to play first-class cricket for Auckland in his native New Zealand and will therefore be ineligible to return to play in the league in 2013. A fine player and exceedingly nice bloke, Lou – and his bizarre caravan - will be missed around the county.

Unpredictable Chester Boughton Hall pocketed 25 points with a boundary four off the last ball of an engaging game at Alderley Edge, which keeps them well in the reckoning.

Alderley totalled 219, with Alan Day,79 and Calum Rowe, 77 adding 160 for the second wicket, against Mark Rowlands’ 5-41.

Sound knocks in reply came from Steve Ogilby 51, Warren Goodwin 41 and Lee Dixon 35, but it took the bravery heart of teenage tailender Harry Killoran to strike a four off the final ball to seal it at 222 for nine, Zaymn Chapman claimed a best of the day 5-60 for the losers.

Macclesfield had to be content with seven abandonment points at Urmston after posting 151-8, Jack Ward and Craig Melrose both 39. Urmston had reached 117 for six with 35 of their 55 overs completed when the match was abandoned, Elliott Bullock 31 not out, Melrose 3-49.

A fine innings of 64 from skipper David Hurst was one of Neston’s winning factors in a tight finish at Didsbury. Nick Anderson took 3-9 in the visitors’ tally of 189 before Didsbury were bowled out for 172, Phil Slattery top-scoring with 58.

Dave Jones made an unexpected first appearance of the season after retiring in 2003 with a club record 1,043 wickets to his name. He came up trumps yet again with four wickets including the vital 10th.

Marple batted well and had the better (12 points to seven) of an abandoned match against Widnes at Beaconsfield road. Marple totalled 232 for eight in the full 55 overs and Widnes had reached 163 for six from 47 when play was washed out by a heavy shower.