Trevor Jordan reports on Berkswell Cricket Club’s Birmingham League Premier Division campaign and the presentation of the first ever Saracens Head Man of the Match Award for Berkswell’s Chris Cheslin, as adjudicated by former England fast bowler Fred Rumsey.
Birmingham Premier League – Premier Division
Berkswell 138 (all out) defeated Barnt Green 135 (all out) by 3 runs
“I’ll take that!” said jubilant skipper Dominic Ostler as his Tyler Packaging sponsored Berkswell side pulled off an astounding last-gasp win against Worcestershire side Barnt Green at an overcast Meeting House Lane.
Having lost the toss and been inserted on a wicket with some green and damp patches favouring the seam bowlers, Berkswell soon found themselves in trouble against an impressive looking opening attack, losing opener James Neale to the fourth ball of the match without a run on the scoreboard. The situation quickly worsened when younger sibling Phil Neale (6) joined his brother back in the pavilion shortly after. With the home side tottering on 14 for 2 in the 5th over Warwickshire’s Tom Milnes joined Tom Lewis at the crease and the pair set about shoring up the innings with a palpable sense of intent.
Watchful but with positive intent the pair applied themselves initially to simply occupying the crease, but over the course of 15 overs the duo expanded their range of shots in compiling an increasingly impressive looking 73 run partnership. In the conditions 87 for 2 was a impressive looking scoreline.
Lewis (38) was the first of the pair to fall, LBW, to the impressive paceman Andy Sutton. New batsman Mohammed Akhlaq (0) fell two balls later to leave Berkswell on 87 for 4 at the end of the 20th over. Milnes (32) continued to play his shots now accompanied by Ostler and they added 16 runs in four overs until Milnes received a ball from Sutton that kept low and trapped him in front. Ostler (19) powered a series of fours to keep the scoreboard ticking over but eventually offered a sharp chance to slip and was caught by Sam Hain to leave the Meeting House Lane outfit on 121 for 6 in the 31st over. With the exception of Chris Cheslin (12) the remainder of the Berkswell batting line up offered little resistance and Nick Powell cleaned up the tail with a spell of bowling that saw him pick up 4 for 27 off 9.4 overs and leave Berkswell 138 all out in 39.4 overs.
The Barnt Green reply started briskly with openers Craig Crowe and Nathan Newport adding 17 runs in 3 overs before Newport (9) was given out LBW to Imran Arif, and in the next over Cheslin (4-28) removed Crowe (8) and Ord (0) in successive balls. This left the visitors on 19 for 3 in the 4th over and Berkswell right back in the game.
However, a confident stroke-laden fourth wicket partnership of 77 between Sam Hain and Tom Burton swung the match in Barnt Green’s favour, but the introduction of Lewis into the attack (3-25) paid dividends as he had Hain (26) LBW, then Burton (40) caught by James Neale in his next over, the wickets falling at 96 and 97 respectively. Eleven runs later he bowled Richard Wilkinson (8) to put the pressure back on the visitors.
The next wicket to fall came with the score on 122 when Dave Brignull, who had bowled majestically without reward, finally got the wicket he deserved when he trapped Jack Williams (11) LBW. Ostler then replaced Lewis with Arif in a change which proved a masterstroke as Arif bowled Powell (2) to reduce Barnt Green to 129 for 8.
With the increasingly noisy crowd beginning to sense blood Chris Cheslin started his next over with a wide and then saw the crowd fall to a hush as the fourth ball of his over careered away for five wides to move the Worcestershire side within four runs of victory.
But, unperturbed by his momentary lack of control and buoyed by the support of the crowd, he bowled Sutton (10) with his next ball before trapping last man Stephen Bevan (0) caught behind by Phil Neale first ball to give Berkswell an amazing 3 run triumph.
“I thought we’d fallen about thirty runs short on that wicket”, said Ostler, “but once we managed to break their high scoring partnership our determination to go on and win the game was tremendous. I’m delighted in the way the lads responded to the challenge and they can all be justifiably proud of their fantastic achievement.”
The Berkswell CC ‘Man of The Match’ award, sponsored by the Saracen’s Head, was judged by Fred Rumsey the ex England fast bowler and now a Berkswell CC supporter, to be Chris Cheslin for his match winning performance with the ball.
On Saturday Berkswell travel to Shrewsbury who are currently sitting in second place in the table.