CRICKET: BERKSWELL made ground on Birmingham Premier League leaders Shrewsbury at the weekend after earning a winning draw against the Shropshire side.
The league’s top teams went head to head on Saturday with Berkswell pegging the gap between themselves and Shrewsbury to just six points following results elsewhere.
Having won the toss, Berkswell decided to bat first.
However their top order found runs hard to come by as the Shrewsbury bowlers maintained their line or length to give very little away.
At the end of the 30th over, only 113 runs were on the scoreboard and Mohammed Ahmed (11), Mark Best (29) and Alex Hepburn (14) were already back in the pavilion.
Chris Whittock and Tom Lewis added another 38 runs in eight overs before Lewis (22) was trapped lbw, and then Tom Milnes (16) lost his wicket four overs later at 172.
With overs running out and more runs needed, an injection of pace into the scoring rate was required.
And in the 45th over it came with 13 runs being taken off the bowling of James Hulton-Harrap.
However in the 46th over, Nick James (9) was dismissed with the scoreboard reading 197.
Warwickshire’s Grant Thornton then joined Whittock and the pair kept up the run scoring momentum with another 24 runs coming in four overs.
This was until Whittock had the misfortune of being run out at the non striker’s end when a fiercely struck straight drive by Thornton was deflected onto the stumps by bowler Oliver Westbury to leave Whittock (99) stranded out of his ground and agonisingly just one run short of his century.
Two more wickets were then lost in quick succession – Thornton (6) and Dominic Ostler (8) – in the attempt to maximise the score as the innings closed on 247/9.
In reply, Shrewsbury also found scoring runs difficult against Berkswell’s opening bowlers Ryan Sidebottom and Tom Milnes.
The former league leaders had been reduced to 25/4 by the 12th over.
A change of bowling saw Thornton and Hepburn enter the attack, and in the 21st over the visitors lost their fifth wicket with Hepburn claiming the wicket of Dillon Pennington (7) with the total on 63. That was to be the last success Berkswell would have with the ball for the next 28 overs though as Tim Ward and Rob Foster stemmed the loss of wickets and compiled a sixth wicket partnership of 116 runs.
Foster eventually went for a patient 58 and Ward (81) fell an over later to give Berkswell renewed hope of a victory.
But with three wickets still to take and only five overs left in the innings, the Shrewsbury tail end closed up shop and held out to ensure the match was drawn.
Ryan Sidebottom proved the pick of the Berkswell bowlers with three wickets for 29 runs from 15 overs.
Next Saturday Berkswell make the short trip to Glasshouse Lane to take on Kenilworth Wardens who currently sit mid-table.
The match starts at midday.
Pictures: Manjit Narotra.