CRICKET: A CONVINCING 127 run victory over West Bromwich Dartmouth at Sandwell Park on Saturday moved Berkswell back up to second place in the Birmingham Premier League.
And the win came at the perfect time as Berkswell prepare for a huge top of the table clash against Knowle and Dorridge this weekend.
The match is likely to play a tremendous in the outcome of this year’s league, with reigning champions Berkswell hoping for further silverware.
Invited to bat first by Dartmouth skipper Kadeer Ali, Berkswell made the worst possible start when Mark Best (1) was caught behind in the third over.
Mohammed Ahmed and Chris Whittock gradually came to terms with a wicket showing a tinge of green and patiently added another 40 runs in the next 15 overs.
The loss of Whittock (23), also caught behind, brought Alex Hepburn to the crease.
However he also started cautiously against the bowling of Shozair Ali, Aaron Patel, and Kasir Shar.
Ahmed (27) was then dismissed when Sultan Afsal was introduced into the bowling attack in the 23rd over with the score on 61.
Following the drinks break at the end of the 27th over, Hepburn and Tom Lewis upped the scoring rate appreciably as two overs of explosive hitting saw the total increase by 36 runs.
Having compiled a 95 run partnership in only eight overs with Lewis, Hepburn (47) was stumped off the bowling of Afsal who then claimed the wicket of Tom Milnes (0) with the next ball to leave the visitors on 156/5.
When Lewis (59) was caught on the long-on boundary eight runs later, and skipper Dominic Ostler (0) was caught two balls after that without any addition to the score, the scoreboard read at 164/7. Ryan Sidebottom and Nick James kept up the run scoring and added 44 runs in twelve overs until Sidebottom (21) was bowled by Shozair.
James (34) lost his wicket in the 54th over, but Liam Gately (9*) and David Brignull (1*) added seven runs in the final over as the innings closed on 229/9.
In reply, Dartmouth batsmen found Berkswell’s opening pace attack of Sidebottom (10/3) and Milnes (31/3) too much of a challenge.
By the 18th over, Dartmouth were reeling at 40/6.
A seventh wicket partnership of 61 between Shozair and Ian Stevenson (15*) gave some respectability to the scoreboard.
But the loss of Shozair (54) bowled by Hepburn (16/2), and Rikesh Patel (0) caught at slip by Sidebottom – both wickets falling in the 30th over – left the home side on 101/8.
The innings was wrapped up in the next over when James (3/2) claimed the wickets of Patel (0), and Afsal (0).
Wicketkeeper Liam Gately held five catches behind the stumps.
The top of the table clash against Knowle & Dorridge at Meeting House Lane starts at noon.
Picture: Manjit Narotra.