Joe Cooper scored a spectacular unbeaten century to help Hale Barns First XI claim a winning draw at promotion-chasing Warrington CC and rise to sixth in the Cheshire County Cricket League Division 2 table.
The hosts entered the game as league leaders and have not been beaten since the middle of May, but were forced to hold on for a losing draw after finishing 85 runs short of Barns’ mammoth total of 242-5.
Having been put into bat, HBCC made a positive start through Cooper and Khurram Hussain as the duo put on 52 for the opening wicket until Hussain became the first victim for 31.
That breakthrough did little to turn the tide, however, with Ben Staniforth looking in good touch and scoring freely alongside Cooper. Another impressive partnership formed, taking the score to 117 in the 25th over before Staniforth was dismissed for almost a run-a-ball 36.
A couple of wickets in quick succession for Malcolm Agar (2-15) restricted Barns to 119-3, but Cooper continued to march on as he passed fifty. Christian Dodson came and went for a solid 20, while Cooper edged closer to three figures to steer the visitors to 200 with seven overs still to spare.
And HBCC maintained their dominance right to the end of the allotted overs, with Sam Smith contributing 20 and Alex Ross chipping in with 15. The star performer was Cooper, though, who cruised to his first ton since July 2017, eventually completing the innings not out on 107.
Chasing an imposing target, Warrington showed a distinct lack of intent as they scored just 21 from the first 10 overs. Agar and Rohan Luthra shared an opening stand of 40 before Ross (1-29) finally broke the deadlock, removing Agar for 33.
And it wasn’t long before Cooper (3-47) was involved in the thick of the action once again as the spinner sent back Luthra (20) and then struck twice in an over to reduce the home team to 62-4 from 21 overs.
Despite falling significantly below the required rate, Warrington failed to display any sign of a winning mentality as they crawled to 111 before Dodson (1-12) dismissed Mike Rudd for 12 to keep hopes alive of a Barns victory.
But the promotion hopefuls persisted with their bizarre batting performance to see out a bore draw, with Jamie Bye ending on 65 not out from 101 deliveries, while Liam Heaphy carried his bat on 15 off 53 balls.