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Report from Allan Smith - 300619

Staffordshire cruised into the semi-final of the Unicorns Trophy after a fine bowling display saw Cambridgeshire dismissed for a meagre 74 in 26.1 overs following which Staffs batsmen knocked off for the loss of four wickets as the players sought to end the match before the lunch break, which they duly did. The reward for the comprehensive win is an away game against Cumberland, who surprisingly triumphed over Lincolnshire in their quarter-final, on Sunday 11th August.


Cambridgeshire elected to bat first after winning the toss and were soon in trouble against the Staffs opening attack of James Cox and debutant Shozair Ali. Cox dismissed Ed Ballard caught at slip by Alex Mellor from the first ball he faced and then Ali claimed his first wicket for the county to reduce the visitors to 1-2. Both bowlers claimed a further wicket each before Dan Richardson joined the party to claim two wickets to see Cambridgeshire in deep trouble at 25-6. 


A partnership of 47 between Craig Park (29) and Josh Bowers (20) briefly held up the Staffs bowlers but the return of Wollerton pace bowler Cox saw the removal of both batsman and Staffs quickly wrapped up the innings as Cox produced the third best ever bowing figures for Staffordshire in a one day game of 5-19 and left arm spinner Paul Byrne joined in the fun to claim a superb one handed catch off his own bowling. West Bromwich Dartmouth’s Shozair Ali picked up 2-17 in an impressive first outing with Dan Richardson also finishing with two wickets and Byrne one. 


A ten minute turn around saw Staffs intent on finishing the game quickly and they needed just 10.4 overs to reach their target. Pete Wilshaw (17), Alex Mellor (8), Tim Maxfield (12), and Michael Hill (9), all perished attempting to finish the game off while skipper Kadeer Ali completed the victory in style with a six into the car park to add to his five boundaries in his 30 not out. 


Staffs turn their attention back to championship cricket this weekend when they take on last season’s Eastern Division champions Lincolnshire in a three day game at West Bromwich Dartmouth starting on Sunday 7th July. Staffs picked up 10 points from their first championship game of the season in a rain affected draw against Suffolk while Lincs got their campaign off to a great start with a victory inside two days against Cumberland. Play starts at 11am on all three days and admission is free. 

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