Cricket: Premier Division new boys Berkswell close gap on leaders Walsall

Trevor Jordan reports on a victory for Berkswell’s cricketers over the weekend in the hotly contested and highly prestigious, multi-county, Birmingham and District League’s Premier Division.


Birmingham & District Cricket Premier League – Premier Division

Berkswell 113 all out     defeated     Brockhampton 75 all out


Berkswell celebrated an important victory over fellow Premier Division new boys, Herefordshire-based Brockhampton, on a damp Meeting House Lane ground, in an encounter which began with both sides equal on 81 points, in joint 2nd place, some distance behind league leaders Walsall.


“How good a win was that!?”, said Berkswell’s beaming skipper Dominic Ostler, after his side overturned a strong visiting side from Herefordshire, to climb within 5 points of league leaders Walsall, whom tragically for them, lost their hopes of maintaining a clear lead at the top due to an abandoned game.

A damp track and soggy bowler’s run ups, following a week of heavy rain, delayed the start of the match by three hours, reducing the contest to 33 overs per side, with Berkswell skipper Ostler heaping praise on stirling work by groundsman Richard Lea and his helpers which eventually made the ground playable.


Having lost the toss, home side Berkswell were asked to bat first on a slowly drying and challenging track. Current Warwickshire regular Ian Westwood and Ed Rainsford opened the innings and had pushed the score on to 26 by the 8th over when Rainsford (7) became the first wicket to fall.   A second wicket stand of 17 came to an end in the 12th over when Phil Neale (6) was bowled by Stewart, followed 10 runs later by Jack Cornick (2), caught by Henry Langford off the bowling of Dave Exall.


Skipper Dominic Ostler joined Ian Westwood in the middle and the pair managed to compile another 21 runs on the unpredictable surface before Westwood (43) was also caught by Langford off Exall’s bowling to leave Berkswell on 74 for 4 in the 23rd over.  A flurry of wickets ensued with Chris Cheslin (1), Babar Khan (4) and Mohammed Akhlaq (0) all falling in the space of 3 overs to leave the Meeting House Lane outfit looking precarious at 88 for 7 with four overs of their innings remaining. Ostler in partnership with Jonathan Coleman, then took a valuable 13 runs from an Owen Price over to advance the score to 111 before Coleman (4) and Dave Brignull (0) fell in quick succession in the 32nd over.


Ostler (38) was finally run out off the second ball of the last over and the Berkswell innings closed on 113.


Following their mammoth score of 383 for 4 the previous week, a confident Brockhampton side took to the crease contemplating another easy victory but found the going much tougher on a challenging wicket against Berkswell’s opening attack of Rainsford and Cheslin.  In his first over Cheslin recovered from being hit for a six by snaring the wicket of Adam Hewlett (6), attempting a repeat six, caught by Cornick on the boundary at deep cover point to leave the visitors on 7 for 1.  Twenty runs later Brockhampton lost their second wicket when Ben Stebbings (7) gave an easy catch to Ostler at short mid-wicket and Rainsford his first wicket.  Chris Buroughs (16) looked as though he was prepared to play the innings that would see the Herefordshire outfit through to victory, but when Rainsford trapped him lbw in the 11th over the match veered in favour of the home side.   An excellent piece of fielding by Babar Khan then changed the course of the game as his quick throw from the boundary made a direct hit on the stumps to have Dave Exall (2) run out by three yards and the innings stalling at 50 for 4 in the 16th over.   Khan then replaced Rainsford and produced a phenomenal bowling performance.  In his first five overs he claimed the wickets of Jonny Walker (2), Will Barrett (0) and Chris Powell (1) without having a run scored off him, and with Dave Brignull picking up the wicket of Callum Stewart from the other end Brockhampton had slumped to 61 for 8 in the course of eight overs.  In the 27th over Khan had Langford (26) caught by Cheslin with the scoreboard now showing 65 and then 10 runs later in the 30th over he ended the visitor’s innings by bowling Price (3) to leave Brockhampton shell-shocked  and wondering just what had happened to them.  Khan finished with the incredible figures of 8.3 overs  6 maidens 5 for 4.


“I thought we really needed another 30 runs to make it a bit more of a challenge ,” continued Ostler, “but once they started to lose wickets early on and their big-hitters were finding it difficult to get the ball away, I knew we were in with a chance.  Babar’s bowling was a joy to watch and I’m delighted for him.  Last week it was our seam bowlers who won the game for us this week it was our spinner but it shows what a well balanced side we are and it was another fantastic team performance.”


Berkswell’s 1st XI are at home again this Saturday (16th June) as they entertain Shropshire outfit Wellington at Meeting House Lane.  Weather permitting, the game gets underway at midday, all interested spectators are welcome to come and witness the action.