Sunday saw the Cheshire County League’s four best T20 teams in 2018 descend on Church Lane to battle it out for the Joseph Holt Brewery Trophy and the chance to represent the League in the ECB’s national competition stages. In semi-final 1, Bramhall had be drawn to face Marple at 10am, with the Beavers hoping that home advantage would at least see them through to the afternoon final against Nantwich or Neston.
Bramhall skipper Nick Cantello won the toss and chose to bat, and his decision looked to be vindicated as the hosts raced to 30-0 from 2 overs and past 50 shortly after. The first wicket to fall was Ashley West, for a rapid 40 from just 17 balls, and this initiated a little stutter to the Beavers’ progress. 2 further wickets fell in quick succession and the home side were suddenly 71-3 with two fresh batsmen at the crease. Aussie Liam Banthorpe looked in good early touch, and had added 19 with his captain before he was caught off the bowling of his countryman Dylan Moroney for 13. Suddenly, Marple found themselves back in the game, and Bramhall didn’t seem to know whether to stick or twist. Those who twisted soon found it to be the risky option, and wickets fell with such regularity that the Beavers looked in danger of not batting their overs. The score was 130-9 with 3 overs left, and Cantello found himself requiring number 11 Luke Littlewood to block deliveries and get the pair into the last over. Littlewood was able to do this, and the skipper was then able to unfurl a trio of maximums to take Bramhall past 150 to close on 156-9. Cantello finished unbeaten on a skilful 38 from 37 balls.
After the turnaround, Marple’s own swift start was punctuated by the loss of their openers for 28. Despite some clean blows from number four Mark Makin, no other batsman looked capable of supplying a match-winning innings to support him, as nagging bowling from Bramhall’s seam and spin attack saw wickets shared around. Ryan Macciocchi took 3, with Rupes Kitzinger, Iftikhar Naseer and Luke Littlewood each getting 2 scalps each – the latter’s four over spell costing just 11 runs.
Marple’s innings was prematurely ended after 18 overs, all out for 105, with Makin stranded on 34 not out from 32 balls. Bramhall won through by 51 runs, aided in part to their captain’s innings, and would wait with interest for their Finals opponents to be decided.