Cricket: Berkswell maintain pole position at halfway stage

Trevor Jordan reports on Berkswell Cricket Club’s remarkable progress as they reach the halfway point of their Birmingham League Division 1 campaign in 1st place:

Birmingham Premier League Division 1
Attock 177ao v Berkswell 181-6

Another robust team performance without star players such as England Under 19 International Tom Milnes and South African Wes Hartslief saw Berkswell extend their lead at the top of Division 1 to eleven points after a four wicket victory at Moseley based side Attock.

Having won the toss Dominic Ostler invited the home side to bat first and enjoyed an early success when Chris Cheslin had Ahmed (0) caught behind by Jonathan Coleman off the second ball of the second over with the score on four. An eleven over partnership of forty runs between Mohammed Khan and Waqar Saleem came to a sudden end when Warwickshire Academy, and Oxford University CC skipper elect Ben Williams, making his first appearance for Berkswell, executed a brilliant piece of fielding to run out Khan (23) with a direct hit on the stumps. The loss of this wicket spurred Berkswell on and in the next over Cheslin (3-44) trapped both Basit Zaman (0) and Junaid Khan (0) LBW to
leave Attock four down. However, following the loss of three wickets in only seven balls the home side recovered and stabilised the situation with Saleem and Arsalaan Mahmood putting together a fifty six run partnership in sixteen overs. But when Mahmood (31) skied a ball from Chris Metters to mid-off Mohammed Akhlaq held on to the catch and the fifth wicket had fallen. Three runs later the sixth wicket went down when Dave Brignull at slip caught Asim Khan (2) to give Metters (2-57) his second wicket.

Quasim Shah (0) failed to trouble the scorers when adjudged LBW off the bowling of Babar Khan (3-37), the seventh wicket falling at 112 in the 35th over. With twenty overs still left in the innings and only three wickets left to fall, it looked as if the home side would struggle to reach a competitive total, but Saleem and Sultan Mahmood kept the scoreboard ticking over with a series of fours.

At 133 the eighth wicket was lost Saleem (41) caught by Sultan Khan off Babar Khan and then four runs later the Berkswell duo repeated the act to remove Mahmood for 19. Last pair Safraz Ali and Sayed Abdul Karim then put bat to ball and kept the Berkswell bowlers at bay whilst accumulating another forty runs, but another excellent piece of fielding, this time by Babar Khan, saw Ali (23) run out after another direct hit, the innings finally coming to a close on 177 in the 52nd over.

For the second week running Berkswell opened with James Neale and Dave Brignull and eighteen runs had been added when Neale (8) was given out LBW off Ali – the wicket falling in the ninth over. Ben Williams now joined Brignull and the pair kept the scoreboard moving and by the 22nd over the total had reached 68 when Williams (21) was caught one handed by Sultan Mahmood at slip off Karim. The visitors then had cause for concern as two wickets fell with the score on 71 – Akhlaq (3) caught in the gully by Mohammed Khan and Brignull (31) bowled by Karim. Jonathan Coleman and Chris Cheslin then dug deep to steady the ship and had put together a partnership of 27 when Cheslin (20) was bowled by Karim. The departure of Cheslin brought Warwickshire’s Chris Metters to the crease and he and Coleman had pushed the score up to 118 when Coleman (12) was caught by Zaman off Ahmed. Skipper Dominic Ostler now made his way to the middle and the former Warwickshire man was soon into his stride with two powerful cover drives for four. At the other end Metters also despatched the loose balls for four and with both batsmen also picking up regular singles to rotate the strike, the scoreboard kept moving towards the required total for victory. In the 51st over eleven runs were taken and in the 53rd another ten to tie the scores. Metters then returned the second ball of the 54th over back over the bowler’s head for four to seal the victory and end up 44 not out with Ostler also undefeated on 30.

Commenting on the victory Dominic Ostler said: “We knew we would have to play well again to achieve a win against Attock who are potentially a very strong side, but we took wickets at crucial times in their innings and then paced our reply perfectly.

“Next week we travel to Brockhampton who are another powerful outfit but we go there confident of getting a favourable result.”