DORSET 192 (0pts) lost to CHESHIRE 294 (2pts) by 102 runs

DORSET’S NCCA Trophy campaign got off to a losing start as a well-polished Cheshire side claimed a 102-run victory at Dorchester Rec.

The visitors were superior with bat and ball, a performance made even more impressive after they lost the toss and were asked to bat by home captain Luke Webb.

Cheshire responded by taking 34 from the opening four overs, Dorset needing a stunning direct-hit run out by Connor Smith to dismiss Alex Money (9) for a much-needed breakthrough.

The middle overs proved an excellent contest between bat and ball but Cheshire came out on top, aided by their ability to find the boundary regularly with crisp yet controlled hitting.

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Opener Sam Perry anchored the innings with a supreme 112 from 133 balls in warm conditions, batting for more than three hours.

His efforts allowed the attacking Joe Cooke (27), Harry Dearden (30) and Kevin Carroll (28) to pile on the runs around him.

Meanwhile, Dorset’s bowling display was peppered with wides and byes in particular, with 40 extras boosting Cheshire to 294 all out.

Seam duo Matt Burton (3-55) and Ollie Breckon (2-35) were the pick of the home attack.

Dorset knew they needed to score close to a run per ball, although a start of 18-2 off five overs gave them a mountain to climb.

Jacob Gordon (1) was bowled by Chris Sanders (2-33) before Webb (11) fell into a trap, tugging a Rob Lord bouncer to a perfectly-positioned man on the 45 inside the ring.

Dorset’s response was measured and mature from Eckland brothers Alex and Joseph as the siblings compiled a 113-run stand for the third wicket.

Both men took time to get themselves in on their way to classy fifties, lacing the ball around the Rec and creating a platform for a late assault.

However, Alex Eckland (53) fell in bizarre circumstances when he missed a full ball from Cheshire skipper Dearden, wicketkeeper Owen Feakes then blocking the delivery with his pads and watching on in delight as Eckland was stumped short of his ground.

When brother Joseph (58) was bowled by Alexander Selby (3-54), the game was effectively up as Dorset’s young middle order struggled to cope with Cheshire’s wily attack.

It meant 131-2 became 192 all out, despite a cameo of 32 from Smith, as spinner Dearden (3-38) emerged with Cheshire’s best figures.

Dorset Echo: Dorset lost 8-61 in their chaseDorset lost 8-61 in their chase (Image: NEIL WALTON)

Speaking to Dorset’s media team following the defeat, Alex Eckland said: “It’s disappointing.

“Me and Joseph were setting us up for the back end of the innings to try and chase a relatively par score.

“Halfway through we thought we were going quite well but unfortunately we lost wickets in clusters and left Connor too much to do.

“It’s a disappointing start but the fixtures come thick and fast. We’ve got another opportunity next week in the T20s. Hopefully we can right some wrongs.”

Dorset, along with Cambridgeshire, next travel to Oxfordshire for their NCCA T20 Super 12s meeting on Sunday (11am).