Former Warwickshire seamer Grant Thornton kept Staffordshire’s hopes of reaching National Counties T20 Finals Day alive by flattening Cheshire at Leek.
Staffordshire’s hopes of topping Group One suffered a setback when they were beaten by six runs in the opening match of the day but Thornton revived them by taking five for 12 to dismiss Cheshire for 90 and set up a 30 runs win in the second game.
Staffordshire play their final two games against Cumbria at Carlisle next Sunday and must hope that Cheshire and Cumbria, who meet at Toft tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) take points of each other.
Cheshire were reduced to 47 for six at the midway stage of their chase in the second match and despite the efforts of captain Nick Anderson to shore up the innings they suffered their first defeat of this season’s T20.
Cumbria are now the only unbeaten side remaining in the competition but they were frustrated by rain which washed out both of their matches against Shropshire at Netherfield.
Rain badly affected other matches in the west of England with Devon and Wiltshire also suffering a double washout at Exmouth.
The first match between Herefordshire and Dorset at Colwall was also washed out but conditions in the Malvern Hills improved and allowed a full second match to be completed and for Herefordshire to secure a comfortable 46 runs win.
Matt Pardoe’s 47 in a second wicket stand of 88 with Ollie Walker (38) proved decisive and insure them against the loss of five wickets for 12 runs after Walker was run out.
Dorset struggled in reply with leg-spinner Zak Shah taking four for 30 on debut, backed by excellent catching from Herefordshire.
Rain and bad light interrupted both matches at Newport but did not prevent Berkshire from doing the double over Wales NC, with victories by 19 runs then 11 runs.
The first match was reduced to nine overs-a-side but that was still sufficient for Berkshire to rattle up 92 for three with new captain Dan Lincoln (45 not out) and Toby Albert (30) sharing an opening stand of 74.
Lincoln (38) and Albert (49) continued where they left off with an opening with a stand of 81 at the start of the second match.
Berkshire’s innings was interrupted by a stoppage for bad light which meant the match became a 15 overs contest and their total of 135 for seven became a target of 146 for Wales.
Tom Bevan, Callum Taylor and Cameron Herring played useful cameos but Max Uttley and Jafer Chohan throttled the chase with combined figure of 5.4-0-25-7.
Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire shared the honours in the other Group Four match at High Wycombe where Oxfordshire’s Sussex pair Harrison Ward (44) and James Coles (38 not out) helped them to a seven wickets win in the first match which was reduced to an 18 over contest.
Buckinghamshire gained their revenge in the second game of the day with opener Eliot Callis making 58 not out in an eight wickets win. Slow left-armer Conner Haddow took four for 27 for Buckinghamshire.
Suffolk completed the day’s other double, beating Norfolk by 23 runs then six wickets in two low scoring games at Manor Park in Group Three.
Suffolk’s 136 for six in the first innings of the opener proved to be the highest total of the day. Ben Wilcox (31) top scored for Norfolk with left-arm wrist spinner Freddie Heldreich openingthe bowling and taking two for 12 in his four overs.
Wilcox again top scored for Norfolk in the second match, this time with 23, but a total of 105 for eight did not stretch Suffolk who got home with 20 balls to spare with Alex Oxley making 42 and 16-year-old Arthur Summers, who made his debut in the first match, 21.
The highest totals of the day came in the other Group Three matches at Grantham where Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire won one game each.
Lincolnshire took the opener after Tom Keast and Joe Kendall had plundered 140 in 14 overs for their second wicket.
A target of 202 may have looked daunting but Cambridgeshire got close thanks to Lee Thomason’s 67 from 31 balls.
In the second match Cambridgeshire opened with a first wicket stand of 126 between Wayne White (81 from 42 balls) and Callum Guest took them to an imposing 222 for eight.
Ben Wright responded with a half century in a losing cause as Lincolnshire were dismissed for 145 and beaten by 77 runs.
National Counties T20
Leek: Staffordshire 124-7, Cheshire 128-4 (Will Evans 41). Cheshire won by six wickets. Staffordshire 120, Cheshire 90 (Grant Thornton 5-12). Staffordshire won by 20 runs.
Netherfield: Cumbria v Shropshire. Both matches abandoned.
Exmouth. Devon v Wiltshire. Both matches abandoned.
Colwall: Herefordshire v Dorset. First match abandoned. Herefordshire 141-8 (Matt Pardoe 47), Dorset 95 (Zak Shah 4-30). Herefordshire won by 46 runs.
Grantham: Lincolnshire 201-3 (Tom Keast 83, Joe Kendall 70), Cambridgeshire 192-7 (Lee Thomason 67). Lincolnshire won by nine runs. Cambridgeshire 222-8 (Wayne White 81, Callum Guest 62), Lincolnshire 145 (Ben Wright 53, Ben Cliverd 3-28). Cambridgeshire won by 77 runs.
Manor Park: Suffolk 136-6, Norfolk 113-8. Suffolk won by 23 runs. Norfolk 105-8, Suffolk 109-4 (Alex Oxley 42). Suffolk won by six wickets.
High Wycombe: Buckinghamshire 126-7, Oxfordshire 127-3 (Harrison Ward 44). Oxfordshire won by seven wickets. Oxfordshire 122 (Conner Haddow 4-27), Buckinghamshire 123-2 (Eliot Callis 58 not out). Buckinghamshire won by eight wickets
Newport: Berkshire 92-3, Wales NC 73-6. Berkshire won by 19 runs. Berkshire 135-7 (Toby Albert 49), Wales NC 134 (Max Uttley 4-18, Jafer Chohan 3-17). Berkshire won by 11 runs (DLS Method).