2004/05 County Championships
Dan Hawkins reports:
Qualifying Round 14th November 2004
Seven teams representing ten counties took part in the qualification tournament of the County Championship at Eton: Cambridgeshire, Kent, Suffolk, Surrey, and Warwickshire. Plus two combined forces: Oxfordshire & Sussex, and Rutland & Lancashire. The format of the qualification tournament saw each team playing each other in three pair matches, best of one game played to fifteen, with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals in January.
It made for a long day but there was plenty of good fives. Warwickshire were the dominant force dropping only one pair and duly finished top of the group. Cambridgeshire matched Kent's performance but Kent's 2-1 victory in the head-to-head match meant that they stole second place one point ahead of Cambridgeshire. Suffolk secured fourth place and a semi-final berth against Warwickshire.
1st Warwickshire - 17 points
2nd Kent - 13 points
3rd Cambridgeshire - 12 points
4th Suffolk - 10 points
5th Oxfordshire - 5 points
=6th Rutland & Lancashire and Surrey - 3 points
Semi-Finals and Final 16th January 2005
Unfortunately Warwickshire struggled to field a team due to a number of absences/unavailabilties. They had hoped to field four players but an illness on Saturday night reduced the team further. Thus Suffolk marched through to the final unopposed.
In the other semi-final Cambridgeshire and Kent contested a closely fought battle. Kent won easily at first pair with Matt Wiseman and James Toop playing together. At second pair, Peter Nichols and Dexter Davies, recent winners of the Universities' Championship, beat Kent's combination of Chris Cooley and schoolboy Sandy Fedorec in straight games. Kent won the decisive contest at third pair 3-1, in a match where every game was reset.
Kent reorganised their pairings for the final to take on Suffolk. There were comfortable victories for Kent at first pair and Suffolk at third pair. So it came down to the second pair match which inevitably went to five games. In the end Kent just edged it, winning the fourth and fifth games to come from behind. Thus Kent succeed Warwickshire as champions of the Counties' having last won the competition in 2003.
Thanks are due to all the county organisers who contributed to the excellent turnout for the qualification weekend.