Staffordshire dodge the weather to stay top in NCCA Twenty20 Cup

Nils Priestley on his way to a quickfire 58 in Staffordshire's NCCA Twenty20 Cup win against Shropshire at Leek.

Staffordshire banked another three-point haul to add to their NCCA Twenty20 Cup tally against Shropshire.

The first Group One match between the two teams at Leek was abandoned after just 11.1 overs. And players then faced a wait to play match two after the inclement weather hit Highfield.

The contest eventually got underway as a 10-over per side match. And Staffordshire turned on the style to thrash their rivals.

Staffordshire managed to amass 116-3 from their reduced allocation. Once again it was the Nils Priestley show.

Priestley had plundered 97 in last Sunday’s win at Northumberland. He then hit the afterburners at Leek with a stunning display of power hitting.

The left-hander produced some exquisitely timed stokes, hitting four fours and five sixes in his 20-ball 58, which set the tone for Staffs’ innings.

Replacement balls were needed as Priestley didn’t seem content with just clearing the ropes, but intent on firing deliveries to all parts of the Highfield surroundings.

‘Support acts’

The rest of the Staffs batting line-up couldn’t quite live up to Priestley’s exploits, which was totally understandable. But they kept the scorecard ticking over delightfully.

Liam Banks, James Kettleborough, Michael Hill and Liam Hurt all made double-figure contributions to leave Shropshire with a tough task in their chase.

And it was a run chase which never gained any momentum as Staffs squeezed the life out of Shropshire’s batting line-up.

That was never better highlighted than former Lancashire seamer Hurt’s double wicket maiden. That’s a rare achievement in T20 cricket, let alone a 10-over bash.

George Hargrave and Tom Fell were the men to depart, which left Shropshire 6-2 after two overs.

From then on it was more a case of how many wickets could take as they looked to bolster their own net run-rate.

Shropshire limped their way to 48-7 at the end of their 10 overs, which emphasised the difference in quality between the two counties on the day.

‘Keeping it tight’

In fact, such was Staffordshire’s impressive display that the visitors only managed to hit two fours and one six.

Seamer Sam Atkinson and spinner Tom Brett both took a couple of wickets. All-rounder Banks also chipped in to ease Staffs to victory.

The batting entertainment provided by Priestley in the afternoon made up for early Staffordshire frustration.

A delayed start occurred, and there were a couple of pitch evacuations due to the rain. It was then decided the game would be 13 overs per side.

Staffordshire were invited to bat and were 99-4 after 11.1 overs when the elements intervened.

‘Rain wins’

The players scurried to the sanctuary of the pavilion before the game was called off.

Captain Kettleborough was unbeaten on 34 at the time, while Hill had produced some classy strokes on his way to 30.

Sam Ellis claimed a couple of wickets for Shropshire, but they were not afforded the opportunity to chase down any target.

However, Staffs showed what they are about in the late afternoon action. They produced a clinical display to bolster their chances of topping the group.

They lead the way with seven points and know that a double victory at Cheshire today would push them tantalisingly close to qualifying for finals day for the first time.

It’s important that they deal with business game by game. But certainly expectations are starting to rise after their performance in game two.

The matches against Cheshire at Nantwich today start at 11am and 2.30pm.

Main image: Nils Priestley stole the show for Staffordshire again in the victory over Shropshire.