Bucks finish runners-up after heavy defeat

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Bucks finished runners-up in the Eastern Division of the Unicorns Counties Championship following their heavy 255-run defeat by Staffordshire at Knypersley on Tuesday.

Hopes that Bucks would top the table and so challenge for the Championship had already been dashed by leaders Cumberland’s two-day trouncing of Cambridgeshire.

But it was still a highly successful season for the young Bucks side who exceeded expectations by winning four of their six matches under skipper Michael Payne.

The only time Bucks were on top against Staffordshire came on the first morning when they reduced the hosts, who had won the toss, to 74-5, Jonathan Burden taking three cheap wickets.

But an innings of 107 from Tim Maxfield, who shared a ninth-wicket stand of 102 for the ninth wicket with Paul Byrne, helped Staffs recover to 267 all out.

Bucks, fielding a weakened batting line-up, struggled against some tight bowling on a slow pitch and managed only 156 in their first innings, Greg Willott taking 5-45.

Staffordshire’s second innings was dominated by skipper Kadeer Ali - brother of England star Moin - who hammered 150 from 162 balls as they rattled up 357-3 dec.

When Staffs declared on the third morning, they set Bucks an unlikely target of 469 to win at five an over.

It was soon apparent that Bucks would get nowhere near that total, and they set about saving the game,, which they looked like doing thanks to sturdy innings from skipper Miike Payne (32) and Dan Hampton.

But a flurry of late wickets - including two lbws which meant nine Bucks batsmen in the match were out in this fashion - saw them all out for 213 with three overs left. Left arm spinner O’Brien captured 7-82.

Hampton was left stranded on 64 not out having batted 166 balls in a vain attempt to save the game.