MAWDESLEY CC first XI claimed the Moore & Smalley Palace Shield Division 2 title with a game to spare thanks to a 45 run home victory over Whittle & Clayton le Woods.
Whittle, who still had title aspirations of their own going into the clash, won the toss and chose to bowl first.
Mawdesley opened with the vastly experienced duo of Brian Parr and Martin Williams and they each used all of their many years to repel the visitors’ attack which included Terence Markham, the man who took all 10 wickets at the same venue just 12 months ago.
The opening stand reached 36 before the introduction of Faruk Chabdu and it paid immediate dividends as he snared Parr for 19 in his first over. Matt Watkinson joined Williams at the crease and the new partnership continued the steady accumulation of runs.
Chabdu accounted for Watkinson (13) with a delivery which lifted off the surface and brushed his gloves to be gleefully caught by Steven Moore behind the stumps.
Captain Darren le Marinel departed for a duck, bowled by Abdulaziz Patel, and Williams’ patient knock of 31 came to an end shortly afterwards to leave the home side 72-4. This brought Dave Whiteley (17) and Alex Berry (33) together in the middle for a stand that was worth exactly 40 as Mawdesley looked to build a competitive total.
In the search for more runs at the end of the innings, four wickets fell to leave the score 137-8 after 45 overs.
The wickets were shared between two men, Chabdu finishing with 4-50 and Sabir Patel 4-26.
Whittle set about their chase in steady fashion but the initial breakthrough came when Alex Berry clean bowled Stuart Barnish for 9. A useful stand between Sabir Patel and Asif Patel kept the visitors in the hunt until the former was caught in the deep by Brian Parr off the bowling of Neil O’Malley.
Steven Moore quickly followed, sportingly walking off after the faintest of edges behind for Martin Williams’ first wicket.
While Asif Patel (24) was still at the crease, Whittle were very much still in the game but his innings was brought to an end when he was run out with a stunning direct hit from Parr.
After his dismissal, the remainder of the batting card wilted thanks to O’Malley and Williams who bowled excellently in tandem.
O’Malley finished with 5 for 26, his third five wicket haul in his debut season for the Rectory Field side, and his 40 wickets have played a big part in the title success.
In the end it was left to Mawdesley stalwart Williams to fittingly wrap up the victory and secure top spot as he had Terence Markham caught behind for his third wicket to leave Whittle 92 all out.
The 12 point victory means that Mawdesley cannot be overhauled by closest rivals Withnell Fold going into the final round of games next Saturday. The league title comes in just the second season since they chose to switch to the Palace Shield in search of greater competition and acts as excellent vindication of that decision.