CRICKET: A NAIL BITING final ball run out ensured Berkswell returned to the top of the Birmingham Premier League following their latest win against Walsall.
Dominic Ostler’s side are now 13 points clear at the top of the Premier Division, though it could have been so much different.
With Walsall sat on 197/9 at the start of the final over – in reply to Berkswell’s 270/8 – Ryan Sidebottom searched for his fifth victim and was handed the ball.
Walsall tailender Robbie Byrne managed to defend his wicket for five balls, but the final ball of the match was clipped to the mid-wicket boundary.
As the ball sped to the boundary, Grant Thornton raced around from square leg to cut the ball off while the batsmen completed a second run.
The two batsmen then attempted a third run, but Thornton’s throw was accurate enough for Paul Byrne (59) to fail making his ground, and he was run-out – meaning Berkswell claimed an outstanding and thrilling last ball victory.
Prior to the last ball drama, Walsall won the toss and invited Berkswell to bat first on their home wicket.
Berkswell looked to be in trouble against their mid-table opposition as early wickets fell with very few runs on the scoreboard.
After just seven overs, Mark Best (2), Darren Maddy (14), and Alex Heburn (0) were all back in the pavilion with Billy-Jo Cox (49/3) claiming all the wickets.
At 20/3 a stabilising partnership was required – and Chris Whittock and Tom Lewis managed to halt the loss of wickets.
Lewis, striking the ball cleanly and effectively, started to get the scoreboard ticking over with a series of fours and one maximum.
But having reached 30, he was given out lbw 52 runs into the partnership.
Tom Milnes (0) only faced one ball before he was run out.
And when Mohammed Ahmed (16) and skipper Dominic Ostler (4) were dismissed, the home side were back in trouble at 127/7 in the 39th over.
However Whittock, who had been batting with growing confidence, upped the run scoring tempo and together with Grant Thornton proceeded to punish the Walsall bowling attack.
Over the course of the next 14 overs the partnership added 117 runs until Thornton (61) was bowled in the penultimate over.
At the close of the innings the total had risen to 270 for the loss of eight wickets and Whittock remained undefeated on 136.
The Walsall reply started briskly with openers Daniel Betty and Danny-Jo Cox putting on 41 runs in the first ten overs before Betty (14) was trapped lbw by Thornton.
Cox (22) departed soon after when he was bowled by Ryan Sidebottom in the 11th over.
Bruce Thomason and Jamie Middleton then combined to add another 56 runs in eleven overs until Thomason (25) edged a delivery from left arm spinner Ahmed to Ostler at slip.
Middleton and Paul Byrne then continued to accumulate runs, and by the 39th over the score had progressed to 169.
The introduction of Darren Maddy into the attack slowed down the scoring rate from one end, and when Middleton (44) tried to pull a straight ball from the bowler he missed and was bowled.
The dismissal of Middleton signalled the start of a batting collapse as Ed Denham (0) was adjudged lbw to Thornton, Billy-Jo Cox (6) was caught at cover by Lewis off the bowling of Thornton.
Ryan Sidebottom then claimed the wickets of Steven Plant (5), Paul Wicker (0), and Sam Mills (0) – all were bowled and beaten by the Aussie’s pace.
Sidebottom ended the game with figures of 35/4 while Thornton picked up three wickets for 43 runs.
This Saturday, Berkswell make the short trip to Dorridge to take on a side currently at the lower end of the table.
The match starts at midday.
Picture: Manjit Narotra Photography.