Smith seals Twenty20 triumph for the Cestrians

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CHESTER-LE-STREET triumphed at the NEPL Co-operative Funeralcare Twenty20 Cup Finals Day at Stockton yesterday.

In the semi-finals, Chester-le-Street and Blaydon played out a cagey game. Blaydon made heavy weather of the early stages of their innings after Andrew Tye gave the Cestrians a flying start with 2-9 in his four overs.

Allan Worthy and Graeme Bridge put on 54 for the fourth wicket and Blaydon eventually battled to 112-4.

Chester only scored six boundaries in their reply, but that didn’t matter as they plotted their way carefully through the run chase. Victory arrived from the first ball of the final over with three wickets to spare.

The second semi produced a major upset in a match with almost identical scores as host club Stockton beat South North by five runs.

Skipper Kevin Ward top scored with 30 as Stockton put on 116-7 first up, Lee Crozier the most successful bowler with 3-18. Adam Cragg (35) and Joe Coyne (49) then looked to be in control, but Ward (3-21) put the pressure on and the run chase fizzled out with South North tamed on 111-9.

Bouyed by battering the Bulls, home club Stockton took the decision to bat when winning the toss in the final, and this paid rich dividends as South African opener Keaton Jennings cracked 55 from 51 balls, including six fours.

But the real impetus was provided by Jon Rickard, who scored 30 from just 22 balls, hitting three fours and a six as he shared the largest stand of the innings of 38 with Jennings. With none of the Chester bowlers really able to rein the home team in Stockton closed with a challenging 140-8.

The Cestrians were then rocked when former player Richard Waite trapped John Coxon for a duck in the first over, and when the second wicket fell shortly after the hosts were in the ascendancy.

But then Andrew Smith joined with Gary Scott in a match defining third wicket stand of 88, and when Scott departed for 31, Smith just kept on going, launching three huge sixes to win the game for Chester from the first ball of the final over.

Smith took the man-of-the-match award for his superb unbeaten 75 that changed the course of the game, and Chester can now look forward to a trip to Oulton near Leeds on August 5 when they take on the Central Yorkshire League T20 champions in the first semi-final of another big day.