Trevor Jordan reports on an interesting week for Berkswell Cricket Club, which began with a valuable fighting draw on Saturday after being outplayed for much of the game by an impressive Barnt Green outfit in the Birmingham Premier Division. This was followed by an emphatic victory in the Coventry Cup against Bablake Old Boys, then defeat at the hands of Leamington in the National Knockout Cup on Wednesday:
Birmingham Premier League
Berkswell 107/6 v Barnt Green 189/8
On a cold and dank day at Meeting House Lane, a fine seventh wicket stand of 68 by Chris Cheslin (20 not out) and Jonathan Coleman (38 not out) ensured Berkswell maintained their unbeaten record in the Premier League.
In a match reduced by the weather to 38 overs per side, Barnt Green skipper Dougie Brown decided to bat first having won the toss but the decision looked to have backfired when Ed Rainsford, making his home debut, picked up two wickets in his second over to leave the visitors 12 for 2 with only three overs gone. A third wicket partnership of 44 between James Ord and Richard Wilkinson put the brake on the loss of wickets before Rainsford trapped Ord (24) leg before in the 9th over.
Wilkinson and Craig Crowe then continued to defy the home attack for another 10 overs until Dave Brignull had the latter adjudged lbw for 20. The loss of Crowe with the score on 87 brought former Warwickshire man Brown to the crease and, in a spell of 6 overs, he and Wilkinson added another 24 runs before Brown (16) was bowled by Babar Khan. Keiran Rees joined Wilkinson in the middle and the pair added another 58 runs in nine overs before Rainsford, who had been brought back into the attack, claimed their wickets, Wilkinson (88) well caught by Jack Cornick, and Rees (9) bowled. The last 3 overs saw a further 20 runs added to the scoreboard and the Barnt Green innings closed on 189 for 8 with Rainsford picking up 5 for 46 off ten overs.
In reply the Berkswell openers, brothers James and Phil Neale had moved the score on to 19 when Phil (5) was bowled by Nick Powell in the 8th over. In the same over he then removed Jack Cornick (0). A brief stay at the crease for Tom Milnes (5) was ended when he was caught by Stuart Bevan and then the loss of both Dominic Ostler (4) and Mohammed Akhlaq (3) had the hosts looking vulnerable to defeat with five wickets down in the 18th over with only 37 runs on the scoreboard. The situation was worsened in the next over when James Neale, who had batted with grit and determination whilst the wickets fell at the other end, was caught at slip off the bowling of spinner Bevan for a well earned 17 runs. With half of the Berkswell overs now completed it seemed likely that Champions Barnt Green would register their first win of the season. However, Cheslin and Coleman produced a partnership of epic proportions considering the position they found themselves in and regained the initiative for the Meeting House Lane side. With the Berkswell duo keeping the visitors attack at bay, Brown kept changing his bowlers around in an attempt to break the stubborn resistance but the pairing held fast and gradually ran down the overs.
A relieved but happy Dominic Ostler said: “We knew it would be a challenge taking on the league champions and not an easy game for us but we went into the game full of confidence after two away wins. We made the perfect start with Ed getting two quick wickets but Barnt Green showed what a good side they are and set us a high target. Unfortunately, losing quick wickets meant we couldn’t respond to the run chase but I’m delighted with the way that Chris and Jon got stuck in to the task and made sure we didn’t lose. In previous weeks we have performed with the ball to win games, this week we needed the bat to keep our undefeated record intact.”
The drawn result sees Berkswell drop to third place in the table but still in touch with the leaders. Next week they travel to second placed Walsall with only seven points separating the two sides.
Berkswell put in an efficient performance against lower league opposition. Babalake Old Boys were defeated by 9 wickets as Berkswell proceeded after an early wicket scare, safely into the next round.
In truth, although Leamington’s run chase went into the final over, they always seemed to have the run chase under control as they put in a strong all round display to come out victors in an interesting, but ultimately disappointing contest for Berkswell’s Meeting House Lane outfit.
Birmingham Premier League
Berkswell take a trip to Walsall for a potentially testing away encounter tomorrow in their Premier Division fixture which gets underway at midday.