Victories for Top Three

Written by: Nick Archer
Date: 04/08/2018

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The end of the 55 over programme was marked by victories for the top three clubs in the Premier Division table and, with seven 50 over matches remaining, 2016 Champions Berkswell lead last year’s title winners Knowle & Dorridge by six points with third placed West Bromwich Dartmouth a further fourteen points in arrears. Two of the early title contenders, Smethwick and Shrewsbury, continued to lose ground on the leaders after the Broomfield outfit were held to a draw by rock-bottom Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury slumped to a 30-run defeat to Dorridge, who, despite this victory, are one of the five clubs who remain in danger at the wrong end of the table. A brilliant century by Jacques Banton (101) and an unbeaten 43 from Darrell Williams lifted Barnt Green to a closing total of 241 for nine, against Berkswell, after a fine opening burst from Tom Milnes (3 for 49) reduced them to 44 for four. Despite the presence of Warwickshire duo Ryan Sidebottom and Josh Poysden, in the home attack, Berkswell cruised to a five wicket win with more than 12 overs remaining after a third wicket stand of 105 between Nick James (75) and Chris Whittock (32). Earlier in the innings, Leicestershire’s Ateeq Javid (59) and Danial Chaudhry (30) opened with a stand of 76 which paved Berkswell’s way to victory. Knowle & Dorridge invited Kenilworth Wardens to bat first, at Station Road, and the visitors were bowled out for 120 with George Worker the most successful bowler with 3 for 12 after seamers Will Mottram, Jack Grundy and Chris Cheslin took two wickets each. The prolific opening partnership of Worker and Alex Phillips, then, did the necessary, for K & D, with Phillips leading the way on 65 not out and Worker compiling an unbeaten 47 to complete an easy 10 wicket win. Dartmouth were, also, 10 wicket winners after they chased down Ombersley’s total of 249 for eight without loss. Josh Haynes hit 100 and Ollie Steele opened with 55 for Ombersley, while Manraj Johal took 4 for 52 for Dartmouth. An unbroken opening stand of 250, in 42.3 overs, by Omar Masood (126 not out) and Amit John (107 not out) steered Dartmouth to 20 points which keeps them in touch with the leading pair. Waqar Saleem (72), Sunny Singh (60) and skipper Vikram Sodhi (59) registered half-centuries in a Smethwick total of 262 all out against Wolverhampton with Zen Malik picking up 3 for 70 for the Danescourt side, who were, soon, in trouble, after tea, against some top-class seam bowling from Cambridgeshire’s Recordo Gordon. The ex-Warwickshire bowler took 4 for 55 as Wolverhampton recovered to reach 193 for eight, by the close, with 55 from Simon Lycett and 45 from Amritpal Singh. Jake Sammons hit 60 and Aadam Din scored 45 in a Moseley total of 215 all out against Walsall with Luke Stynes taking 4 for 44 for the visitors. Left with 59 overs to reach their target, Walsall slumped to 52 for five, then 141 all out, as Yadvinder Singh took 3 for 24, and Alex Thomson, fresh from 12th man duties for England, during the Test match, picked up 3 for 29. Shrewsbury will be relishing the return of the 50 over format after some inconsistent displays in the 55 over games. Dorridge, after being inserted by the visitors, reached 220 for five, with 70 from Barrie Forrester-Smith and 60 from David Ball. Liam Lofts took 3 for 52, for Shrewsbury, who were dismissed for 190, in reply. George Panayi top scored with 77 and skipper Will Parton hit 43 from 41 balls but Warwickshire’s Chris Wright (4 for 62) and his opening partner James Ayres (3 for 40) sent Shrewsbury tumbling to a 30-run defeat in the 43rd over. 

Following their five-wicket win over bottom of the table Wellington, Division One leaders Kidderminster are 47 points clear at the top of the table after closest challengers Shifnal hung on for a draw at ever-improving Oswestry. Only 15 points separate Shifnal from eighth in the table Bridgnorth and any of the seven clubs behind Kidderminster could clinch the second promotion place if they come up with a decent run of form in the 50 over format. At the other end of the table, Wellington are 44 points adrift of safety with Leamington Spa and Brockhampton the sides who are in most danger above them. Wellington’s Dan Lloyd hit 88 in his side’s total of 218 for five at Chester Road with Chris Steele taking 3 for 35 for Kidderminster, who cantered to victory with Matt Pardoe unbeaten on 93 and skipper Neil Pinner adding 63 in a third wicket partnership of 111. The Shifnal attack was put to the sword by Oswestry who racked up 358 for eight after an opening partnership of 144 between Warrick Fynn (151) and Joe Carrasco (63). Wales Minor Counties player, Roman Walker cracked 55 from 26 balls and Shropshire’s Robbie Clarke hit 41 before his County Captain Steve Leach picked up four late wickets for 25 in three overs. In reply, none of the Shifnal batsmen were able to record a half-century as they hung on, grimly, on 167 for nine with Charlie Morris taking 4 for 40 and Xavi Clarke snapping up 3 for 28. The return of Liam Banks, after a spell on England Under 19 duty, signalled a return to winning ways for Tamworth, who defeated Leamington by 115 runs. Banks and Stuart Burrows top scored with 59 and Jason Jakeman hit 51 but the man of the match was Leamington’s William Mashinge who took 6 for 52, then hit 88 from 65 balls in Leamington’s disappointing response of 139 all out. James Rudge took 4 for 24 and his opening partner, Josh Bowker took 3 for 41. Halesowen drop one place to fourth after they held on for a losing draw against Bridgnorth who closed on 266 for four, which included a solid century from Ryan Lockley (104). Opening batsman Ian Gregory began the innings with 54 to lay the platform for a target that proved beyond Halesowen who finished on 225 for eight. Masharraf Shazad scored 103 from 144 balls but Halesowen were never in the hunt after Adam Quiney (4 for 49) took two early wickets. The Worcestershire duo of George Rhodes (121) and Josh Tongue (42) saw Barnards Green to 210 for three before they fell away to 237 all out against Brockhampton, who continue to stare relegation in the face after they were dismissed for 136. Adam Hewlett took 5 for 73 for the Herefordshire side but they never recovered after they crashed to 26 for six, then 75 for eight. Phil Harris (3 for 29) and Tongue (2 for 2) did the early damage before Josh Blunt finished them off with 3 for 46. Although Bromsgrove lie in seventh place in the table, they trail Shifnal by the slender margin of 11 points, but they could have been eight points closer if they had bowled Himley out in response to their own total of 232 for eight. Jayden Levitt (57) and Ryan Pedley (45) lead the way with a second wicket stand of 107 with the veteran seamer Chris Boroughs taking 4 for 64 for Himley, who needed a defiant 43 from 85 balls from Arunveer Bhogal to hold off Bromsgrove after Ashley Newfield took 3 for 11, from 11 overs, and Gareth Williams took 3 for 44. Himley closed on 147 for eight and are not yet clear of the danger zone! 

Walmley’s seven wicket win over Astwood Bank and Harborne’s 152 run defeat of Streetly sees them lead the way in Division Two but the next four clubs, still, retain realistic hopes of promotion, following victories by Attock, Sutton Coldfield and Penkridge. The only club in the top six to taste defeat was third placed C & R Hawks who went down to Sutton by four wickets at Rectory Park. Pershore and Coventry & N.W. are a little off the pace, 45 points behind second placed Harborne but neither of them are ready to throw the towel in yet! Tom Pedley (63) and Tom Underhill (61) saw Astwood Bank to 235 for eight against Walmley with Jonathan Newis taking an expensive four wickets for 92 and Sarmad Bhatti a more economical 3 for 49. In response, Walmley cruised to victory, thanks to an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 96 between Andrew Hendry (135 not out) and Newis (41 not out). Harborne clobbered 344 for six against Streetly after Tejas Wagle, who came to the wicket at 193 for five, smashed an unbeaten 108 from 73 balls. James Hunt (54) and Tom Arnold (44) were a little more circumspect before Wagle entered the fray. Faced with such a daunting total, Streetly were 192 all out, in 41.1 overs, with a top score of 47 from Imran Qadir. Hunt completed a fine all-round match for Harborne with 5 for 46. Another top-class all-round display came from Sutton’s Dinushka Nawarthnage, who took 3 for 26 as Hawks folded to 136 all out in 46 overs. The Sri Lankan, then, steered Sutton to a four wicket win with an unbeaten 50, a result that keeps them in the mix, just behind Hawks and Attock who romped to a 65 run win against Coventry & N.W. Arsalaan Mahmood (77) and Mohammed Nafeez (40) were the top scorers in Attock’s 252 for nine, while Harry Horsley (4 for 65) and Harris Ikram (3 for 47) were the pick of the bowlers for the visitors. A devastating opening spell from Ehsan Adil (6 for 25) put paid to Coventry despite a battling 45 from Taran Toor and an unbeaten 46 from Matthew Clements. Samyr Nawaz supported Adil, well, with 3 for 59, as Attock stayed in the promotion frame. Fordhouses recent woes continued with a 100-run defeat at Penkridge after the home side reached 263 for eight with 85 not out from Ishaq Mohammed and 68 from Laeq Chishti. At 128 for six, Penkridge were in trouble before Mohammed hit 10 boundaries and six sixes in his 45-ball innings. Fordhouses fared even worse, crashing to 67 for eight before 55 from Chris Guest and 34 from Adan Hussain saw them to 163 before the last wicket fell. Aqab Ahmed took 5 for 62 for Penkridge. The match between Pershore and Wombourne was a thriller, with the home side sneaking home by one wicket thanks to an unbeaten 68 from skipper Chris Ridings who guided his team to victory after Ben Thomas took 4 for 49 and Ben Hudson took 3 for 58. Liam Ridings scored 51 for Pershore, for whom Taylor Pugh took 3 for 38, as Wombourne closed on 184 for seven, from 55 overs, with 52 from Dan Bassett and 52 from Will Cook. 

While second placed Stratford-upon-Avon went down to a 46-run defeat to Pelsall, leaders Stourbridge extended their lead at the top of the Division Three table with a 66 run victory at Newport. They are, now, 25 points clear of Stratford, who are two points ahead of Rugby, who defeated Old Elizabethans by 113 runs, with Old Hill a further two points in arrears, following a 25-run defeat at Lichfield. A captain’s innings of 65 from Josh Banks saw Stourbridge to 219 for nine at Newport, who crumbled to 153 all out with Hasnain Nawaz taking 4 for 17 for the visitors. The match between Pelsall and Stratford was dominated by the home club’s Dan Wale who came to the wicket at 46 for five and hit 46 from 43 balls. His effort, helped by 31 from Waqar Ahmed, saw Pelsall to 180 all out after James Urquhart took 4 for 39 and Archie Walker picked up 3 for 60. Wale, then, went to work with the ball, finishing with 5 for 26 as Stratford slumped to 134 all out. Ryan Brown chipped in with 4 for 35, as Pelsall clinched a victory which leaves them in fifth place in the table, seven points behind Stratford. Rugby’s total of 295 all out, against OE’s was built around a third wicket partnership of 146 between Matt Ewer (75) and Raj Chohan (68). Alex Bastable (5 for 46) and Khalid Baig (3 for 70) bowled well for OE’s but their cause wasn’t helped by the concession of 44 extras. OE’s folded to 12 for four, in reply, before Lee Dixon (59) and Bastable (47) put on 114 for the fifth wicket. Ewer (4 for 15) took the first four wickets to fall and Lee Golding took 4 for 47 but the match was settled by Henry Wilkins who took the final OE’s wicket with the penultimate ball. Lichfield’s Adam Braddock hit 52 as the City side were bowled out for 159 by Old Hill with Nigel Davenport (4 for 33) and Naqaash Tahir (3 for 52) to the fore. At 109 for four, Old Hill were on course for a routine victory, but the game was changed by James Wilkinson (5 for 30) who returned for a second spell that saw him take four wickets as Old Hill were toppled for 135. Salim Ahmed hit 95 for Whitchurch against Milford Hall but his efforts were to no avail as the Staffordshire side ran out winners by four wickets as they chased down a total of 212 for eight. Chris Dean took 3 for 66 for Milford before 68 not out from Chris Becker and 59 from Michael Astley saw them home. Ijaz Yousaf took 3 for 62 for Whitchurch who are rooted to the foot of the table. Bevon Brown hit 87 for Handsworth against Redditch but he received little support as the Birmingham side were dismissed for 134. Haris Ali Mohammed took 3 for 51 and hit an unbeaten 44 as Redditch earned a five-wicket success. Opening batsman Rizwan Chaudhry hit 52 to set Redditch on their way to victory.