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Oxton win again after Birley best

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After taking 8-52 to pilot his side to victory on the season’s opening day, Oxton seamer Andy Birley produced the goods again on Saturday with a 6-9 return in an eight wickets home victory over Didsbury.

Oxton thus become Cheshire’s only ECB Premier League club to win both opening games. Birley, who won the Performance of the Week from The League Cricketers Association for his exploits against Toft was on a hat-trick on two seperate occasions and at one stage was 6-4.

He was presented with a bottle of champagne before the start of the match by the cricket chairman then set about his Manchester opponents with a fine display of seam and swing bowling.

Andy Prestwich beat him to the first wicket but after that it was the Birley show as the Didsbury batsman struggled to play shots in the face of such tight control.

Worcestershire all rounder Gareth Andrew bowled a tidy spell from the Pavilion end and was unlucky not to open his Oxton account with a sharp chance put down in the slips. Ross Dixon finished off the Didsbury innings with a smart return of 2-4 and looked a real threat.

Didsbury were routed for 58, Oxton replying with 60 for two in 19 overs, Chris Davies 25 not out, while former New Zealand Test batsman Lou Vincent scored 17 on debut before being bowled by Jibram Khan.

Unable to play because of rain on the opening day, promoted Widnes and Marple both recorded significant victories.

Widnes produced a top-class batting performance to claim 25 points at Hyde after the Werneth Low side had declared at a seemingly safe 248 for seven, Tom Twiney 74, James Duffy 68.

In Widnes’ reply, Danny Naughton carried his bat, with an innings of 95 not out including 15 fours to pilot his side to a five wickets win with eight balls left. Aussie Michael Nalesnyik scored 65 on debut and Neil Maher 44.

Scoring was much lower in an 84 overs game at Marple where the home side were restricted to a modest 134 for eight by tight Macclesfield bowling. Andrew Hall top-scored with 59 against Rob Porter 3-37 and Barney Cutbill 3-39.

New signing Andy Wylie, the one-time Sheffield Collegiate paceman who took 44 wickets for Stockport last season, claimed 6-33 off 17 overs on debut.

Helped by Andy Greasley’s 4-49, Marple bowled Macclesfield out for 95, Rob Keen 33, with just two balls to go.

Neston claimed a 10 wickets home win after bowling Urmston out for 114, Lewis Jackson 47, Chris Hackett 4-14, Jordan Free 3-34. Neston knocked the runs off at 116 without loss in 15.2 overs, first team irregular Hackett cracking 94 off 46 balls.

“Not much doubt who was man of the match!” commented umpire Geoff Wellsteed.

Chester Boughton Hall beat Toft by 69 runs in an interesting game at Filkins Lane after posting 229 for seven in 50 overs, former Oxton duo Mark Rowland scoring 72 and Lee Dixon 51, plus 47 from new Aussie Kumar Sarna. Tom Atkinson was Toft’s best bowler with 3-48.

Toft were all out for 160 in 57 overs, Shaun Mudalige being top scorer with 41, helped by Pat Ashling 37, while teenage leg spinner Jack Williams again showed his quality with impressive figures of 20.3–6–58-6.

Champions Nantwich had the better (13 points to nine) of an 80 overs home draw with Alderley Edge, after posting 199 for nine, Chris Simpson 73, Sam Hunt 43. Mark Warnes bowled well to return 5-50 and Jason Whittaker 3-67.

Alderley reached 142 for eight in reply, Charlie Reid 30.