Cricket: Berkswell win Birmingham League Twenty20 Challenge Cup

Berkswell T20 Challenge Cup Final squad

Second Division Berkswell produced two outstanding performances against Premier Division opposition to become Birmingham League Twenty 20 Challenge Cup Champions for the first time on a superb finals day at Cannock.  The Meeting House Lane club, enjoying easily the largest and most exuberant travelling support, produced excellent all-round displays in both matches, upstaging Walmley in the semi-final, then doing something of a demolition job on Staffordshire outfit Himley in the final.

Berkswell’s finals day triumph was notable for the way the team performed as a unit, with excellent fielding and consistent contributions with bat and ball, punctuated by key performances from skipper Ostler, 17 year old rising star Tom Milnes, Khizar Zaman, Phil Neale and South African Wes Hartslief.

Semi Final

In the first semi-final, Walmley won the toss and invited Berkswell to bat.  Aided by some lacklustre fielding Berkswell took the initiative and posted an impressive 159 for five in their 20 overs on a track that required vigilance and a degree of patience, thanks, mainly, to a stand of 60 between Ostler (53) and Warwickshire Academy player Phil Neale (53 not out).  Both batted excellently with Phil Neale showing imagination with an array of strokes including a number of well executed reverse sweeps.  Greg Ricketts was the pick of the bowlers for Walmley, with 3 for 19, with James Burnett and Paul Griffiths chipping in with one apiece.  In reply Walmley struggled, especially when Berkswell took the pace off the ball with their first change bowler Khizar Zaman who fired up the crowd when he took a wicket with his first ball.  Khizar bowled with great control to strangle the life out of Walmley’s run chase with 3 for 10 from his four over spell and was the chief reason for Walmley falling away to 119 for seven at the end of their innings to see Berkswell cruise through to the final.  Mo Usman top scored with 35 whilst Zaman received strong support from Hartslief (2 for 21) and Babar Khan (1 for 21).

Berkswell then had to sit and wait to find out who they would meet in the final as Himley played favourites Shrewsbury, who as it turned out never recovered after falling behind the run rate early in their chase.


Dominic Ostler basks in the glory in front of Berkswell's noisy followers

The Final

Berkswell won the toss and elected to bat first in the Final.  Roared on by a large and noisy crowd they siezed the initiative with 24 from the first two overs with Ostler (17) and Hartslief (19), launching into a series of boundaries including one extremely powerfully hit straight six from Hatslief in the second over.  The innings was characteristic for its’ series of entertaining cameo innings all held together by a mature performance from 17 year old Tom Milnes who saw the inning sthrough from number 4 to finish on 42 not out.  Phil Neale chipped in again with 22, with other key contributions coming from Mohammed Akhlaq (16) and Babar Khan (16) to enable Berkswell to post another impressive total of 154 for six.    Singh (3 for 18) was the outstanding bowler for Himley, supported by a wicket apiece from Wedge and Lunn.

A devastating opening spell of fast bowling by Hartslief (2 for 18) and Milnes (3 for 15) reduced Himley to 13 for four to destroy Himley’s reply.  Despite valiant attempts to recover in the middle fo the innings, from Bilal Hussein (21), Ahmed (20), Wedge (18) and Harshad Patel (12), the task was too great and Himley found themselves all out for 105 in the 20th over.  Anthony Mc Allister (2 for 14), Sultan Khan, Babar Khan, Zaman and Ostler all provided excellent support as Berkswell ran out easy and thoroughly deserving winners on a day that was superbly hosted by Cannock.
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