Graham Williamson Trophy Semi Finals

Written by: Nick Archer
Date: 26/09/2020

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The shortened 2020 season will conclude at Moseley CC tomorrow when Barnt Green will play West Bromwich Dartmouth in the Final of the Graham Williamson Trophy at 11am. The Management Board’s decision to regionalise the 24 member clubs into four County based groups, after the Covid-19 pandemic prevented any competitive play until 18th July, has proved both popular and successful and has led to renewed interest in the club game across the West Midlands. Because the season was curtailed, it was agreed that the League Championship Trophy would not be at stake but clubs remained keen to play competitive cricket and the Management Board confirmed that the 2020 season would be played under Graham Williamson Trophy Rules and Playing Conditions. 

The current holders of the Graham Williamson Trophy, previously played as a straight knock-out competition, are Barnt Green and, as winners of Group 4, for Worcestershire based clubs, they were drawn away to Berkswell, the winners of the Warwickshire based Group 3 at The Lant. Having won the toss, Barnt Green invited their hosts to bat first and this decision was rewarded with three early scalps for Andy Sutton as the 2019 Premier Division Champions slumped to 25 for three. The loss of Warwickshire’s Dan Mousley (23) at 46 brought Nick James (48) and Tom Lewis (26) together and they carefully rebuilt the innings, taking the score to 95 before the loss of Lewis. James was joined by Richard Jones (27) but both were gone by the time the score had reached 135 before a brutal late attack by Tom Milnes (35 from 19 balls) took Berkswell to a final score of 181 for nine from 40 overs. Barnt Green skipper Darrel Williams and Dan Meredith bore the brunt of this onslaught, conceding 84 runs from their combined eight overs, leaving Sutton (3 for 32) to maintain some control at the other end. With Ed Pollock in the Barnt Green side, it was difficult to gauge if this was a competitive total, but the Warwickshire white-ball specialist was dismissed by Tom Milnes for nine with the total on 17. However, a second wicket partnership of 73 between Ben Chapman-Lilley (48) and Jacques Banton (40) eased the visitors into a strong position which became even stronger after a fourth wicket stand of 56 between Chapman-Lilley and Dom Harding (37). At 157 for three, it looked as though Barnt Green would run out easy winners but three quick wickets from Grant Thornton (3 for 33) changed the game as the Worcestershire side slipped to 165 for 6 with another 17 runs required for victory. Berkswell’s tails were up but Will Baker (11 not out) and Williams (8 not out) held their nerve to take Barnt Green into the Final with four wickets and four balls in hand. 

Meanwhile at Sandwell Park, Shifnal, the winners of the Shropshire Group, were invited to bat first by West Bromwich Dartmouth, who had finished top of the Staffordshire Group. Despite the loss of two early wickets, Shifnal made steady progress to 91 without further loss, thanks to a third wicket stand of 77 by wicket-keeper James Sookias and Worcestershire captain Joe Leach. Sookias fell first to Kabir Ali for 48 but Shifnal continued to progress, nicely, reaching 159 for six before Leach (65) was dismissed by Aatif Ali (3 for 43). Kabir Ali (5 for 28) continued to find some help in the pitch as Shifnal slumped to 167 for nine before a brave last wicket stand of 24 between skipper Chris Murrall (25) and Amar Jassall (10 not out) took them to a respectable but not commanding total of 191 all out in 38.3 overs. Although Shifnal’s opening attack of Mitchell Stanley and Joe Leach beat the bat on numerous occasions, Omar Ali played a cavalier knock of 50 to set Dartmouth on their way while his youthful colleague and cousin Ismail Mohammed (36) was steadfast at the other end. They put on 75 for the first wicket and once Leach had completed his spell, Valeed Butt joined in to see Dartmouth to 148 before he was third out for 41. The loss of two quick wickets were a setback but a lusty innings from Shahzeb Raja (31 not out from 16 balls) which included two fours and three sixes, eased Dartmouth to a five wicket success with 20 balls remaining.