CRICKET: HOPES of Berkswell claming a second successive Birmingham Premier League title faded on Saturday as they lost to championship rivals Shrewsbury.
Dominic Ostler’s men missed out by 39 runs, a defeat which drops them back to third in the league table.
Batting first, Shrewsbury posted a challenging 299/9 from their 50 overs with Worcestershire’s Ed Barnard making a sizeable contribution with 117 while Oliver Westbury’s 52 and Tim Ward’s 47 added to the respectable total.
Ryan Sidebottom proved the most successful Berkswell bowler, picking up four wickets for 44 runs from ten overs.
In reply, Berkswell started their innings poorly and were soon reduced to 75/5.
The situation worsened ten overs later when the scoreboard showed 125/7.
With any chance of victory seeming impossible, all-rounder Nick James and Liam Gately proceeded to attack the Shrewsbury bowlers.
The pair complemented each others’ style of batting and had soon added 50 to Berkswell’s cause from just 38 balls.
But in the 38th over, James (39) lost his wicket – the partnership having added 58 runs.
With the loss of James at 183 and only two wickets, and twelve overs left, the expectation of the visitors getting anywhere near the required total was minimal.
New batsman Sidebottom carried on the run chase.
An explosive display of hard hitting from the fast bowler saw the score board move rapidly with 28 runs coming off two overs.
Disappointingly, the innings of Gately (62) came to an end in the 45th over at 239, but his entertaining batting had given some respectability to the Berkswell score.
Last man David Brignull gave valuable support to Sidebottom enabling him to keep moving Berkswell towards an unexpected victory, but when Brignull (7) was caught off the last ball of the 49th over the run chase came to an end, with Sidebottom remaining undefeated on 42.
Berkswell must now win their concluding two matches while hoping table toppers Knowle and Dorridge slip up as the season draws to a close.
Berkswell host Kenilworth Wardens at home on Saturday in their attempt to regain second place in the league table.
Picture: Manjit Narotra.