THAT Northwich should bow out to Nantwich, opponents ranked two levels higher and runners-up in the competition last season, will not have been a surprise.

However they could reflect on whether the outcome, a 118-run success for the Dabbers, might have been different – certainly less emphatic – had they not squandered a chance to dismiss Niall O’Brien.

The Irish international drove from his home in Leicester to play, and he made the trip worthwhile with a brilliant unbeaten century.

No Northwich bowler was spared punishment during a 58-ball innings that yielded seven fours and 11 maximums, helping hosts Nantwich to score 212-5.

However chipped an early opportunity towards Glinoj Cherian at mid-on, off Matthew Dufty’s bowling, only for the former Dabber to misjudge the flight of the ball.

He could not readjust to get a hand on it despite diving backwards.

The Premier Division hosts had been 59-3 before O’Brien added 82 runs with Rob Cook-Sievewright (31) for the fourth wicket.

Cherian took some belated consolation from ending that partnership by baffling the sand-in skipper from his first delivery, allowing wicket-keeper Nicholas Verma to claim a smart stumping.

Another 59 runs, most of those plundered by O’Brien swatting sixes back over bowlers’ heads and into the field behind, followed with Ben Johnston.

Andrew Dufty (2-41) and James Plant (1-30) ended as the pick of the visitors’ bruised attack.

Their faint hopes of a victory evaporated when they tumbled swiftly to 6-4, with Cheshire pace-man Oliver Freckingham (3-16) a fiery destroyer-in-chief.

He was denied a hat-trick though when Chandrika Wathukarage clipped a four off his pads.

The Sri Lankan contributed 41, off 38 balls, to prevent the Moss Farm men from an embarrassing exit their performances in group-stage wins against neighbours Weaverham and Davenham did not deserve.

He added 41 with Mohammad Ajmal (19), taking Northwich from 33-5.

They closed on 94-9, with youngster Jordan McDonough (10no) the third batsman to reach double figures.

Scott Wardley (2-28) and Johnston (2-5) claimed a brace each, while left-arm slow bowler Oliver Griffiths (1-8) provided a change in speed at the opposite end to Freckingham that kept Northwich securely shackled.

Nantwich take reach the Joseph Holt Brewery T20 quarter finals as a reward, and with O’Brien in this form they can be confident of going one better than in 2016.


Joseph Holt Brewery T20 play-off

Nantwich 212-5 Northwich 94-9

Nantwich win by 118 runs

Scorecard is here.

Shot of the day

Chandrika Wathukarage off Henry Dobson

The Sri Lankan’s innings spared Northwich blushes and, on a night of huge sixes, he can claim to have struck the biggest of all straight back over the teenager’s head

Ball of the day

Oliver Freckingham to Mark Walker

It’s been difficult to dismiss the in-form Northwich captain in recent weeks, but the Cheshire fast bowler did so with a perfect delivery that glanced the bail from his off-stump

Tweet of the day

Mrs O'Brien approves

Numbers of the day

58 Balls faced by O’Brien for his unbeaten 117. 11 of those ended with him striking a six

21 Minutes longer for Nantwich to complete their overs.

How much of that was time spent by Northwich fielders retrieving balls from an adjacent field?