Berkswell are Champions

Written by: Nick Archer
Date: 16/09/2018

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For the second time in three years, Berkswell are Premier Division Champions following their 117-run win over Wolverhampton. Having beaten their closest challengers, Knowle & Dorridge, last week, a result that saw them establish a four-point lead at the top of the table, Berkswell made no mistake as they put bottom of the table Wolverhampton to the sword. Ateeq Javid (77) and Nick James (68) established a sound platform after Berkswell won the toss and elected to bat first and, at the end of the 40th over, the score was 197 for three. James was dismissed, soon after, but a blitz from Tom Lewis enabled his side to reach 334 for six at the end of 50 overs. Lewis blasted eight fours and nine sixes in an astonishing innings of 104 from 58 balls. His second 50 came from 13 balls and he hit 28 from an over bowled by Zen Malik. Amongst the carnage, Babar Khan took 3 for 55 against his former club. A feature of the Wolverhampton innings was a disciplined 85 from Aneesh Kapil, from 120 balls, but facing such a large target, Wolverhampton folded to 217 all out after he was dismissed by Mohammed Ahmed (4 for 31). Malik hit 40, as he and Kapil added 78 for the second wicket but Ateeq Javid’s 3 for 50 pegged Wolverhampton back before Ahmed finished them off. At the other end of the table, Ombersley will be relegated with Wolverhampton, despite a crushing 150 run win over Kenilworth Wardens, who earned three bonus points from the match to ensure their own safety. Ombersley will rue the decision that lead to the Disciplinary Committee deducting 20 points from their total for playing an ineligible player in their win over Moseley, last week, a decision that enabled Dorridge to avoid the drop, thanks to a three wicket victory over near neighbours K & D. Liam Gwynne scored 65 and Jack Haynes hit 48 in an Ombersley total of 239 for seven, against Wardens, who, having picked up the necessary bonus points, collapsed to 89 all out. Josh Haynes took 4 for 17 and Oliver Uffindall took 3 for 41 for Ombersley, who finish two points behind Wardens and nine points behind Dorridge who restricted K & D to 231 for nine in 50 overs. None of the K & D batsmen reached 40 as Iftikhar Ahmad took 3 for 53 for Dorridge who were led to victory by an unbeaten 112 from Gary Hawkins, who faced 156 balls. He hit 15 fours and batted throughout the innings to steer Dorridge to safety. George Worker (3 for 38) and Scott Stenning (3 for 59) were the most successful bowlers for K & D, who finished as runners-up, 18 points behind Berkswell. West Bromwich Dartmouth finished in third place in the table with a comprehensive 186 run win over Moseley, who crumbled to 116 all out in response to a Dartmouth total of 302 for seven which included 117 from Andrew Umeed. Usman Awan took 4 for 47 for Moseley who put up little resistance as Sultan Afsal took 3 for 15. In the battle for fourth place in the table, Smethwick overcame Shrewsbury by four wickets in a run-fest at Broomfield. Ben Stebbings (86), Ed Foster (66) and Rob Foster (46) saw Shrewsbury to 294 for six but a commanding innings of 148 not out from Amrinder Brar and 71 from Basit Zaman helped Smethwick to their highest finish since the League opened its doors in 1998. Walsall’s superb end of season run continued with a crushing 148 run win over Barnt Green. A month ago, Walsall were facing a battle to avoid relegation but four wins from their last five games sees them finish in seventh place, 30 points above the safety line. Bruce Thomason hit 86 in 64 balls after Alex Mellor (71) and Billy Cox (45) added 96 for the second wicket before Cox (4 for 28) and experienced skipper Paul Wicker (3 for 26) ripped through a strong Barnt Green batting line-up. Paul Byrne took the vital wicket of Ed Pollock early on, then Cox took the next four wickets on the spin to send Barnt Green packing. 

There was a dramatic end to the season in Division One with Shifnal clinching the second promotion place behind Kidderminster after defeating Barnards Green by four runs. They began the day in third place, 12 points behind Shropshire rivals Bridgnorth, who missed out on promotion by one point after they were beaten at Brockhampton by a single run, a result that keeps the Herefordshire side in Division One, following C & R Hawks second place finish in the division below. Shropshire skipper Steve Leach (75) lead the way for Shifnal and his County colleague Ross Aucott hit 44 to see Shifnal to 243 for eight. Mahaaz Ahmed took 3 for 43 for Barnards Green who were dismissed for 239, in reply. Ryan Tongue (60) and Ahmed (50) batted well, early on, for the visitors but 4 for 48 from Alex Riley pegged them back. Ashlea Brewer (32) then threatened to spoil Shifnal’s day but he was last man out with an over to spare. At 61 for four, Brockhampton were faltering against Bridgnorth before a superb captain’s innings of 103 not out from Nick Powell took them to a competitive 229 for nine. His Bridgnorth counterpart Sam Whitney took 4 for 35 but it was Powell’s effort with the ball that turned the match. Ian Gregory (44) gave the Bridgnorth innings a foundation to play around but, apart from Whitney (45), the Bridgnorth middle order were unable to cope with Powell who took 4 for 32, including the final wicket, with Bridgnorth one run short of a result that would have seen them promoted to the top tier for the first time. Wellington’s last chance of survival disappeared with a 119-run defeat at Tamworth on a day when all six home sides recorded a victory, just as they had in the Premier Division. Jason Jakeman scored 65 as Tamworth were bowled out for 201 by Wendell Wagner (4 for 46) and Matty Simmonds (3 for 34). Tamworth’s James Rudge bettered both those efforts with 4 for 33, as Wellington were routed for 82. Despite a 21-run defeat at Bromsgrove, their second loss in eight days, Kidderminster finished the season as Champions, 33 points ahead of Shifnal. Presented with the Division One trophy, before the game, Kidderminster conceded 230 for seven to Bromsgrove with 55 from Jayden Levitt, 54 from Ryan Pedley and 45 from Ashley Newfield. Liam Weston took 3 for 70, for Kidderminster, who were bowled out for 209, despite an enterprising 91 from skipper Neil Pinner who struck 13 fours and 2 sixes. Newfield completed a fine all-round game with 4 for 42. A century from Ed Kilbee (101) and a half-century from Alexei Kervezee (53) saw Halesowen to 267 all out against Himley for whom Thomas Rhodes took 3 for 58. Only two Himley batsmen scored more than 13, in reply, with Dan Durman the best with 83. Kervezee took 3 for 33 as Himley were bowled out for 198. Oswestry closed on 286 for five at Leamington with 95 from Roman Walker and 49 from Joe Carrasco the highlights, but the home side responded with 290 for seven, with five balls remaining, led by an unbeaten 97 from William Mashinge, 51 from Jon Wigley and 40 from Nabeel Asghar. Warrick Fynn took 3 for 54 for Oswestry, who, despite this defeat, end the season in fourth place, two points ahead of Halesowen in fifth and four points in front of Tamworth in sixth. 

Harborne were crowned as Division Two Champions, last weekend, and they celebrated their triumph with a 42-run win over Pershore but there was frustration for Walmley, who defeated Fordhouses by two wickets. To earn the second promotion place, Walmley needed Womburne to beat second in the table C & R Hawks but Hawks brushed aside the South Staffordshire club to hang on to second place, even though they will not be promoted after their ground failed a League audit earlier in the season. Harborne’s total of 289 all out, in 49.4 overs, was built around 64 from Karan Bharaj, 54 from Jimmy Clifford, 47 from Tom Payne and 40 from Daniel Wright. Darren Critcher picked up 4 for 53 for Pershore who were dismissed for 247, in reply. Chris Miles (60) and Stephen Miles (47) were the leading scorers but Zak Sinkinson stepped up to take 5 for 39 and George Land took 3 for 37 to end the season on a high note for the Birmingham based club. Saqib Akbar top scored with 67 in a Hawks total of 226, at home to Wombourne, who responded with 184. Wombourne’s Ben Thomas took 3 for 31 and David Hemming hit 46 after he came to the wicket with the score on 87 for seven. At Fordhouses, Alex McChristie scored 45 as the home side reached 230 all out with three wickets apiece for Walmley’s Jamie Hall (3 for 42) and Jonathan Newis (3 for 54). An unbeaten 77 from Andrew Hendry and 60 from Dan Bromley set up the win for Walmley but Hawks victory over Wombourne meant that they finished in third place in the table. In a match between the bottom two in the table, Astwood Bank closed the gap on Coventry & N.W. to 13 points, with Streetly, four points ahead of Coventry after a five-run defeat at Attock. Astwood Bank reached a monumental total of 356 for four against Coventry with an unbeaten 90 from Tom Underhill the highest individual score. Sam Thomas (67), Rob West (61), Pete Alexander (42) and Steve Adshead (41) all chipped in before Harry Horsley smacked 124 from 125 balls for Coventry. Apart from Taran Toor, who teed-off with 44 from 21 balls, at the start of the innings, Horsley didn’t receive enough support and Coventry had reached 261 for nine, from 45 overs, when the umpires called the game to a halt due to bad light. At this stage, Coventry were 82 runs behind the DLS par score and Astwood Bank were declared the victors. Imran Qadir hit 47 in Streetly’s innings of 135 at Attock with Junaid Khan taking 4 for 25 for the home side, who were steered to a victory that sees them finish in fifth place in the table by Salahudin Khan (60) and Arsalaan Mahmood (45). Penkridge finished the season in fourth place after they defeated seventh placed Sutton Coldfield by seven wickets at Rectory Park. Mohammed Usman (77) and Dinushka Nawarthnage (57) registered half-centuries in a Sutton total of 236 with Laeq Chishti (3 for 32) and Aqab Ahmed (3 for 41) the pick of the bowlers for Penkridge, who romped to a convincing win with 85 from Rana Hassan, an unbeaten 69 from Attiq Chishti and 53 from Mohammed Ishtiaq. 

Rugby’s four run victory over Stourbridge, last weekend, meant that a win from their last game at Newport would see them win the Division Three title at the first time of asking but they came up nine runs short, leaving the way clear for Stourbridge to reclaim pole position, which they duly did, courtesy of an emphatic eight wicket win over faltering Stratford-upon-Avon. Dan Such (3 for 11) took the first three Stratford wickets before they reached 30 and it took 42 from Jim Harcourt to take them to 150 all out. Half-centuries from Jujhar Johal (54) and Matt Bradley (50 not out) meant that the pressure was on Rugby and they failed to respond, finishing on 172 all out, in pursuit of a Newport total of 181 for nine, from 36 overs. Mark Downes top scored with 43 for the Shropshire side with Vishaal Rathod picking up 3 for 26 for the visitors, who slumped to 116 for eight before a belligerent 76, from 53 balls, from Henry Wilkins revived their hopes. He was ninth man out on 172 and the final wicket fell, without addition, to leave Stourbridge as worthy title winners. Simon Douglas (4 for 30) and Downes (3 for 32) were the men who inflicted the most damage with Douglas snapping up the last two wickets. Pelsall finish in third place, despite a three-wicket defeat to Milford Hall. Chris Dean (6 for 34) and Mark Thompson (4 for 16) were responsible for all of the Pelsall wickets as they collapsed to 93 all out but Ryan Brown (3 for 30) made Milford battle all the way for their fifth win of the season, the same number of wins as Whitchurch, who signed off with a four wicket win at Handsworth. The home side were dismissed for 234 off the last ball of their 50 overs with Ijaz Yousaf taking 3 for 62 for Whitchurch. An unbeaten 102 from skipper Alex Huxley, who put on 151 for the fifth wicket with Kristen Ali (80), guided his side to a last match success with Bilal Zameer taking 3 for 42 for Handsworth. Old Hill finished the season in style with a crushing 157 run win over Redditch, who were all out for 133, in response to an imposing 290 for two. Zain Shahid (156) and Harry Baddams (80 not out) put together an opening stand of 253 with Shahid leading the way with 20 fours and 7 sixes. Facing such a daunting total, Redditch lost wickets at regular intervals to Shafiq Ahmed (3 for 17), Zahid Kafiat (3 for 33) and Naqaash Tahir (3 for 46) and were, eventually, put away for 133, with Old Hill ending the season in fourth place, 57 points behind Stourbridge one of their oldest and closest rivals. Old Elizabethans finished a disappointing season on a high note with a 10-run win over Lichfield, who finished the season in the top half of the table in sixth place. Tom Goodwin hit 49 as OE’s reached 255 for seven with Andrew Lightbown taking 3 for 38 for the visitors who looked on course for victory after Will Davies (67), Callum Heanan (51) and Adam Braddock (48) took them to 244 for six. They, then, lost their last four wickets for one run as Khalid Baig (4 for 34) removed the tail.