JASON Cornes is trying to avoid thinking about what will be one of the most important matches he’s played in.

But his opponents on the bowling green, with good intentions, can’t help but remind him.

“Even people I don’t know that well have been asking me about it,” he says.

“They ask about the green, and whether I think we can win.

“It’s captured their imagination, so I hope they’re curious enough to come along and cheer us on.”

The Castle Private member is Cheshire’s captain for the home leg of this Sunday’s British Senior County Championship final, which starts at 2pm.

Their task is a daunting one; to wrestle the Crosfield Cup from the clutches of champions Warwick & Worcester – victors in each of the past three seasons.

But the opportunity to be crowned Britain’s best doesn’t come along often.

Cheshire, victors on 11 previous occasions since 1950, have not reached this stage in more than a decade.

Of the 12 bowlers who will start Sunday’s encounter at Winnington Rec, only two – Cornes and Comberbach’s Stuart Kellett – were part of the most recent title-winning team in 2003.

“They’re big favourites, and are probably expecting to carry on their winning run,” says Cornes.

“Because of that, they’ll feel some pressure too.

“We’ve come from nowhere to reach the final – we weren’t even expected to get out of our qualifying group.

“It’s a massive achievement to come this far, particularly as Cheshire hasn’t been near a final for 10 years. But now we’re there, we want to win.

“You don’t know how many chances you’ll have to be successful in this competition. The lads are excited, and have been talking about it a lot.”

Cornes concedes Warwick have more know-how, but is confident his side – consisting of bowlers from Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association clubs Castle, Comberbach and Wharton Cons – can overcome their inexperience.

Indeed, he’ll urge them to use it to their advantage.

“They’ve no skeletons in their closet,” he adds.

“They’re not scarred by previous defeats in big finals or important cup matches. They can just go onto the green and get stuck in.

“I’m sure there will be some nerves, but I’ll tell them to enjoy it.

“It would be big deal if we win, more so than when Cheshire won back-to-back titles at the turn of the century.”

He’s conscious home advantage can be crucial, as it was when denying Wales a first appearance in the final when they met in the last four.

An 18-chalk success at Winsford Cons made the difference.

And a similarly decisive result will Cornes’ target when the champions arrive in town.

“We beat Wales because we fought hard,” he says.

“If we’re honest, then nobody played as well as they can. There were good patches, but none lasted a full game.

“We’ll have a smaller margin for error in the final.

“We got through because everybody played a part, and made every chalk count. That will be important again at the weekend.”

Castle duo Paul Mackie and Dave O’Brien, along with Wharton pair Glynn and Simon Cookson, are part of Cheshire’s line-up for the away leg at British Oak Bowling Club.

That means 16 of Cheshire’s 24 starters on Sunday are regulars in the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association.

It’s perhaps fitting then that a Northwich green will act as host.

Cornes concludes: “We’ve got decent players, and Warwick will be worried about them.

“We’ll give it a damn good go, and see what happens.”


Crosfield Cup final

At Winnington Rec (Cheshire bowlers’ names first): Steve Morrey v Peter Davenport; Tom Vickers v Steve Freer; Matt Thurlwell v Pete Dunkley; James Harrop v Greg Smith; Stuart Kellett v Anthony Bracken; Jason Cornes v Ben Harris; Andy Hamman v Tom Palmer; Daniel Nixon v Colin Weaver; Adi Faulkner v Jason McLoughlan; Rob Winnington v Ross Dunkley; Steve Curbishley v Steve Wallace; Shaun Yearsley v Darren Round.

At British Oak BC (Cheshire names second): Ryan Prosser v Carl Armitage; Neil Clarke v Tommy Johnstone; Lee Kington v Dave O’Brien; Jason Galvin v Glynn Cookson; Justin Hemmings v Noel Burrows; Gareth Herbert v Simon Cookson; Jon Palmer v Phil Davies; Stewart Meddings v Ryan Sandham; Paul Hemming v Paul Mackie; Carl Fielding v Michael McDonnell; Chris Bergin v Lee Johnstone; Tom Pritchard v Paul Dooley.