Premier Division Two Review 11th September

Written by: Nick Archer
Date: 11/09/2021

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The only unresolved issue in Premier Division Two was the identity of the club who will accompany Champions Halesowen into the top tier for the 2022 season with Kenilworth Wardens the most likely provided they took a minimum of seven points from their game at home to Harborne. Anything less would leave the door open for Himley who travelled to Bromsgrove in search of the 20 points that would lift them into second place if Wardens failed to produce the goods. At 130 for three, all looked as though it was going to plan for Wardens but a middle order “horror Show” saw them collapse to 171 all out in 42 overs. Nick Seager (44), Henry Cullen (39) and Ali Asif (37) had batted Wardens into a promising position but the dismissal of Asif at 152 saw the last six wickets fall for 19 runs as Daniel Wright (5 for 47) and Swapnil Gugale (3 for 40) capitalised on some fraught Wardens nerves. The home side struck, early, in response, reducing Harborne to 35 for two but some classy batting from Tom Payne (66 not out), Karan Bharaj (42 not out) and Gugale (40) eased Harborne to a comfortable seven wicket win which ensured that they finish in eighth place in the table. The door was, now, ajar for Himley but they faced a monumental task after they invited Bromsgrove to bat first and the home side responded with 282 for six from 50 overs led by centuries from Alex Milton (113) and Jayden Levitt (100). They added 207 for the third wicket after the first two went down for 43 and it proved far too many for Himley who were all out for 209 in response. Top scorer was Callum Lea with 69, while Freddie Fallows took 4 for 29 for Bromsgrove, who finished a disappointing seventh in the table after a very bright start to the campaign in April and May. 

Despite their defeat, Wardens hung on to second place, but Himley’s defeat allowed Barnards Green to leapfrog them and finish in third place after a 58 run win at relegated Oswestry in another match that looked as though it had Twenty20 written all over it! Faced with the longest trip in the League on the final day of the season, Barnards Green thumped 145 in 20.3 overs but lost all 10 wickets in doing so. Oliver Rogoff hit 63 but wickets tumbled all around him as Warrick Fynn took 4 for 14 and Alex Selby finished with 3 for 43. Oswestry were left with 146 to win their fourth game of a disappointing season but they stumbled to 87 all out, in reply, in 23.1 overs. Opening bowlers Zain Ul-Hassan (6 for 25) and Phil Harris (3 for 34) did nearly all of the damage as Oswestry were consigned to bottom place in the table. The other relegated side, Pelsall, were defeated by Wolverhampton but it was, as has been the norm for the Walsall Road side, a close fought affair, with the visitors triumphant by three wickets with seven balls remaining. Jujar Johal (77) and Todd Henderson (52) registered half-centuries as Pelsall reached 227 for eight in 50 overs but they were eclipsed by Wolverhampton’s Ramanjot Jaswal who carried his bat throughout the Wolverhampton innings for 107. Jamie Holmes took 3 for 30 for Pelsall who, with a bit more luck and experience, may have survived for another year. Shropshire wicket-keeper Ben Lees hit 72 for Bridgnorth as they scored 227 for nine at Dorridge, for whom Perry Derrick took 3 for 41. Dorridge were, then, dismissed for 204 in 46.4 overs with three wickets apiece for Sam Whitney (3 for 16) Cam Wallis (3 for 44) and Adam Quiney (3 for 49). Bridgnorth end the season in fifth place, while Dorridge finish in 10th position, one place behind Wolverhampton. With the divisional title, already “in the bag”, Halesowen travelled to Wem, where they won the toss and batted first, reaching 244 all out in 47.5 overs, thanks mainly to 114 from Alex Hinkley. James Astley took 3 for 46 for Wem, who were dismissed for 190 in 46 overs. Sam Peate top scored on 66 with Jamie Harrison (4 for 47) and Alexei Kervezee (3 for 36) the leading wicket takers for the Champions.   

Over the next two weekends, the County League play-offs will take place which will determine the two sides who will replace Pelsall and Oswestry in Premier Division Two in 2022. The four County League winners, Lichfield, Stourbridge, Stratford-upon-Avon and Worfield will play each other in a round-robin tournament on Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th September and Saturday 25th September in a series of 50 over (win, lose, draw) matches and the top two at the completion of the six games will earn promotion. Stourbridge and Stratford-upon-Avon are former winners of the League, while Lichfield and Worfield have, also, been members of the League in the past, playing at Division Three level before the League was re-structured and reduced in size at the end of the 2018 season.