Cumbria seamer Michael Slack returned the county’s best figures in the National Counties Trophy to set up an emphatic five wickets win over Cheshire at Didsbury.
Slack took seven for 22, including the first five wickets, to better Cumbria’s previous best of six for 49 taken by Chris Williams against Berkshire in 2011.
Slack’s figures have been bettered only twice in the history of the competition – formerly the Minor Counties Trophy – with the list headed by Norfolk’s Paul Bradshaw who took seven for 15 against Herefordshire in 2005.
Cheshire were reeling at 45 for five at one stage but were rescued by Nick Anderson, playing on the ground of the club he captains, who made a battling half century.
Slack then helped to lay the foundations for Cumbria’s successful run chase as he shared an opening stand of 88 with Sam Dutton.
But Dutton was very much the dominant partner, scoring 62 of those runs on his way to a maiden century in the competition from 74 balls.
Cumbria, who were beaten finalists the last time the competition was contested in 2019, cruised home with almost 17 overs to spare.
Shropshire’s new white ball captain Graham Wagg impressed with bat and ball on his debut in a three wickets win over Northumberland at Oswestry.
The former Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Glamorgan all-rounder checked Northumberland’s progress after Felling’s Alasdair Appleby had made a fluent 58 by taking three wickets, including debutant Sol Bell and Mickey Allen in the space of three balls.
Shropshire wobbled at 123 for five in pursuit of a target of 241 but Wagg and Ben Lees added 112 for the sixth wicket.
Lees was dismissed for a run-a-ball 50 when only six were needed for victory and Wagg finished unbeaten on 66.
Holders Berkshire began their title defence with a hard-earned four runs win over Bedfordshire at Dunstable.
Half centuries from opener Archie Carter (83) and Dan Lincoln (84 from 73 balls) led Berkshire to 265 for five.
But solid contributions from Eddie Ballard, Kashif Ali and James Kettleborough kept Bedfordshire in the hunt before Matt Coles, the former Kent, Essex and Hampshire all-rounder, pummelled 42 from 17 balls.
After Coles departed, Henry Warren’s aggressive cameo took Bedfordshire to within a six of victory before he was bowled by Luke Beaven off the last ball of the match.
Four wickets from Glamorgan seamer Aneurin Norman and a half century from Oskar Kolk took Wales NC to a two wickets win over Buckinghamshire at High Wycombe.
Michael Payne’s unbeaten 70 steered Buckinghamshire to 196 all out and Wales appeared to be strolling to victory until Kolk became the middle of Tom Hampton’s three wickets.
Only 46 more were needed when Kolk departed but Wales lost four wickets for 15 before Norman and Tegid Phillips saw them home with an over to spare.
Lewis Goldsworthy translated his impressive early season County Championship form with Somerset to National Counties cricket but it was not enough to save Cornwall from a two wickets defeat by Dorset at Werrington.
Goldsworthy made 52 opening the innings and Paul Smith stuck 94 from 63 balls – including seven sixes – to take Cornwall to 277 for seven.
Goldsworthy then weighed in with two wickets but half centuries from former Hampshire batsman Harry Came, skipper Luke Webb and Ed Ellis led Dorset’s reply.
Ellis levelled the scores off the penultimate ball of the match before debutant Robert Wigley took a single off Tommy Sturgess’ last ball.
It was less tense in the other Group Two match at Instow where Herefordshire defeated Devon by 67 runs.
David Ball (47) and Nick Hammond (46) were the main contributors to Herefordshire’s 232 for seven.
Herefordshire followed up their solid batting with a similar bowling display which throttled Devon’s reply.
Matt Thompson made a patient 59 but wickets fell around him, five going down for 32 at one stage.
Nottinghamshire off-spinner Matthew Carter shone as a batsman in Lincolnshire’s 89 runs win over Norfolk at Manor Park in Group Three.
Carter clobbered eight sixes in his 53-ball 91 – his competition best – and shared a sixth wicket stand of 111 with Ben Wright, a debutant from Bourne, which exactly doubled Lincolnshire’s total.
Despite Sam Arthurton’s 55, Norfolk never got to grips with a target of 272.
Cambridgeshire also enjoyed a comfortable victory against Hertfordshire at Bishop’s Stortford where Lee Thomason (86 not out) and Ben Clilverd (52 not out) shared an unbroken seventh wicket stand of 92 in the last 11 overs of the innings.
Clilverd then took four for 32 to help restrict Hertfordshire to 190 despite 38 from Essex reserve wicketkeeper Will Buttleman on his National Counties debut.
National Counties Trophy
Didsbury: Cheshire 172 (Nick Anderson 67, Michael Slack 7-22), Cumbria 175-5 (Sam Dutton 102). Cumbria won by five wickets.
Oswestry: Northumberland 240 (Alasdair Appleby 58), Shropshire 241-7 (Graham Wagg 66 not out, Ben Lees 50). Shropshire won by three wickets.
Werrington: Cornwall 277-7 (Paul Smith 94 not out, Lewis Goldsworthy 52, Rob Pack 4-32), Dorset 278-8 (Harry Came 60, Ed Ellis 56 not out, Luke Webb 55). Dorset won by two wickets.
Instow: Herefordshire 232-7 (David Ball 47, Nick Hammond 46), Devon 165 (Matt Thompson 59). Herefordshire won by 67 runs.
Manor Park: Lincolnshire 271 (Matthew Carter 91, Ben Wright 55, Ashley Watson 4-32), Norfolk 182 (Sam Arthurton 56). Lincolnshire won by 89 runs.
Bishop’s Stortford: Cambridgeshire 275-6 (Lee Thomason 86 not out, Ben Clilverd 52), Hertfordshire 190 (Ben Clilverd 4-32). Cambridgeshire won by 85 runs.
Dunstable Town: Berkshire 265-5 (Dan Lincoln 84 not out, Archie Carter 83), Bedfordshire 261-9 (Euan Woods 4-40). Berkshire won by four runs.
High Wycombe: Buckinghamshire 196 (Michael Payne 70 not out, Aneurin Norman 4-36), Wales NC 202-8 (Oskar Kolk 51). Wales NC won by two wickets.