Guy Chapman reports:
The County Championship title was this year retained by Hertfordshire, narrow winners over Kent in the final.
A total of eight counties entered the qualifying round at
Kent and Hertfordshire had brought strong sides and entered the final round guaranteed qualification, but with a needle match to decide first and second. Both ended up with 55 points,
Middlesex were comfortable in third, while Warwickshire and Staffordshire battled it out for fourth – with again the final round meeting between the teams proving decisive. Warwickshire came out on top, edging second and third pairs 12-10, and then wrapping things up with a 12-6 win at first.
Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and
All in all, a very successful day's Fives – and hopefully we'll have even more counties taking part this year (
The two semis both went the way of the seedings, with Kent and Hertfordshire proving too strong for Middlesex and Warwickshire respectively, though both matches were 2-1. First pair Herts v Warwickshire is worthy of mention, where the organiser was suggesting they stopped for lunch (pairs 2 and 3 having finished, and hence the match decided), but the players keen to battle on.
The final saw Hertfordshire complete their Hat-Trick, successfully re-defending their title. Kent were too strong at first pair, and Herts had too much strength in depth at third, so the crucial pair was always going to be second. Hertfordshire were probably the favourites, and so it proved, their pairing of the two Petes proving comfortable winners in the end.
The third-fourth playoff not only took place this year, but even saw changes to both teams - with John Saunders arriving for Middlesex, and Seb Cooley stepping in for Warwickshire. It would look like the result was hanging on a very tight fifth set at third pair, which could easily have gone either way – but second pair was actually still locked at one set all when third pair had finished all five sets! Middlesex eventually triumphed, edging third pair, and winning second pair after a marathon encounter.
Middlesex lost to Kent 1-2
Guy Chapman & Robert Desmond lost to Howard Wiseman & James Toop
6-12, 6-12, 3-12
Shuja Khan & Ryan Perrie lost to Matt Wiseman & Luke Stradwick
9-12, 5-12, 7-12
Dexter Davis & Saul Albert beat Tony Barker & Harry Ravi
12-8, 12-3, 12-3
Hertfordshire beat Warwickshire 2-1
Dave Mew & Ant Theodossi lost to George Campbell & Richard Tyler
9-12, 7-12, 13-14
Pete Cohen & Pete White beat Merlin Goldman & Tom Cox
12-6, 12-9, 12-3
Mark Herring & Doug Foster beat Pete Scholey & Chris Mellor
12-4, 12-6, 12-5
Kent lost to Hertfordshire 1-2
Howard Wiseman & James Toop beat Dave Mew & Ant Theodossi
12-10, 12-9, 12-6
Matt Wiseman & Luke Stradwick lost to
Pete Cohen & Pete White
7-12, 13-14, 4-12
Tony Barker & Harry Ravi lost to Doug Foster & Mark Herring
2-12, 4-12, 2-12
3rd/4th Play Off
Middlesex beat Warwickshire 2-1
Guy Chapman & Robert Desmond lost to Seb Cooley & George Campbell
11-12, 7-12, 9-12
Dexter Davis & Saul Albert beat Richard Tyler & Rez Malik
12-4, 10-15, 12-9, 12-10
Ryan Perrie & John Saunders bear Chris Mellor & Merlin Goldman
13-11, 15-11, 9-12, 9-12, 15-13