Trevor Jordan reports on a vital Chris Cheslin-inspired victory against Kidderminster Victoria for relegation-threatened Berkswell and looks forward to their vital Premier Division clash against local rivals Knowle and Dorridge.
Berkswell (130 for 6) beat Kidderminster Victoria (129 all out) by 4 wickets
“That was a crucial win”, said a delighted Dominic Ostler after all-rounder Chris Cheslin had batted his side out of serious trouble with an accomplished looking innings of 26 not out on a difficult wicket.
Chris Cheslin’s Man of the Match display brought home the Saracens Head Man of the Match Award for the player, but more importantly for the club, a brief moment of respite before tomorrow’s critical local derby against visitors Knowle and Dorridge, where victory over their difficult to beat 3rd placed rivals would make Berkswell safe.
Winning the toss against visitors Kidderminster Victoria, skipper Ostler invited his opponents to bat first and another magnificent spell of seam bowling from Dave Brignull soon had Kidderminster in trouble at 35 for 4 in the 17th over on a track offering something for the bowlers.
A steadying fourth wicket partnership of 56 between Neil Pinner and Andy Kimberlin relieved the tension for the visitors until Tom Lewis had Pinner (29) caught behind by Phil Neale. A run out two runs later in the 32nd over put the pressure back on Kidderminster, and then the loss of the seventh wicket in the 39th over with the score on 111 kept the momentum with the home side. The return of pace bowler Imran Arif into the attack for the 43rd over was quickly rewarded as he had visiting skipper Jonathan Wright (16) caught at cover by Lewis, and then claimed two wickets in his next over – Mark Mansell (7) and Gareth Williams (0) both given out lbw – to wrap up the Kidderminster innings in the 45th over. Dave Brignull finished with the remarkable figures of 3 for 4 off his ten overs and Imran Arif returned 3 for 24 from 7.5. Berkswell’s other wicket takers were Tom Lewis 2 for 20 and Darren Maddy 1 for 30.
Berkswell opened their innings with James Neale and Warwickshire’s recently retired Maddy, and, in his second game of the season for the Meeting House Lane side, the latter made a dramatic impact with the bat as he powered the home side to 24 by the fourth over. But, having made 20, he was bowled by Williams. The Neale brothers then added another eleven runs until James was caught behind by Ben Cox for 11. Tom Lewis joined Phil Neale and the pairing added 22 in 9 overs whilst coming to terms with the still unpredictable wicket but Lewis (16) was then adjudged lbw to Pinner and the third Berkswell wicket had fallen. With the score still on 57 Phil Neale (10) was caught behind to leave the home side now four wickets down and 73 runs away from victory and the nerves jangling. However, skipper Ostler and Jack Cornick dug deep and put together a fifth wicket partnership of 31 until Cornick was bowled by Pinner for 12.
Ostler ‘s recent run of bad luck with the bat continued when, having made 13, he pushed forward defensively to spinner Mansell but the ball hit the toe-end of his bat and spun back past him to hit the stumps with just enough strength to dislodge the bails. At this stage of the innings with 40 runs still needed and 16 overs left to bat, Mohammed Akhlaq (6 not out) and Chris Cheslin played with restraint and good sense working the ball around the field picking up ones and twos and then putting away the bad ball for four and gradually eased Berkswell towards the important win they needed. In the 44th over Cheslin (26not out) hit the winning run and eased the nervousness surrounding the club.
Ostler said: “We knew just how important it was to get a win and, now that we have, some of the pressure on us has been removed. Dave Brignull’s spell with the ball was superb and then Chris Cheslin saw us over the line with the bat, something we haven’t done often enough this season. Although we are still in the danger zone we have created some breathing space between ourselves and the two clubs just below us, but we cannot take anything for granted. We must still continue to fight hard and pick up as many points as we possibly can if we are to stay in the top flight.”
Tomorrow’s match against local rivals Knowle and Dorridge is their last home game of the season and with a still uncertain future, the Meeting House Lane side will welcome all support in their bid to stay in the Premier Division for another season. The match starts at noon. Entry is free and there os a licensed bar which is open to visitors during the game.