A HIGHLY polished performance that included a six wicket haul for Grant Thornton and an unbeaten maiden century for Oliver Haley saw Berkswell beat Wolverhampton by seven wickets and move top of the Birmingham Premier League by then points.
Having won the toss Dominic Ostler invited Wolverhampton to bat first but he must have been questioning his decision as openers Tom Fell and Dan Bowyer rapidly added runs to the scoreboard.
Their 81 run opening partnership finally came to an end when Thornton bowled Fell (36) in the 16th over, and when Nick James bowled Bowyer (40) four runs later the hosts had lost two quick wickets.
Wasim Jaffer, the former Indian test player, and Zen Malik continued to add runs and compiled a 77 run partnership over the next 20 overs with Jaffer looking every inch a class player.
However, the loss of Malik (24) run out by David Brignull at 162 together with the introduction into the attack of young slow left arm spinner Mohammed Ahmed slowed down the run rate as he and James applied pressure.
Losing Ben Twohig (13) stumped by Liam Gately off the bowling of James with the score on 184, and then Adam Lawley (4) caught by Haley from a delivery by Ahmed at 191 meant that half of the host’s batting line up had been dismissed by the 45th over.
Jaffer, however, continued to keep the scoreboard moving, but the re-introduction of Thornton into the attack had a dramatic effect after the took the wickets of James Hammond (2), Jaffer (78), Ramanjot Jaswal (0) and Johannes Bothma (0).
The Wolverhampton tail managed to scramble another 12 runs but Thornton picked up his sixth victim with the last ball of the innings when he bowled Usman Arif (6) to finish with figures of 6 for 57 off 16 overs.
In reply Berkwell’s openers Oliver Haley and Mark Best kept pace with the required run rate and looked at ease against the Wolverhampton attack of Bothma and Arif.
The introduction of Malik and Twohig into the bowling attack made little difference as both openers continued to advance Berkswell towards the winning total. Having compiled a first wicket partnership of 110 in 24 overs, Best (54) was caught at cover by Bowyer off the bowling of Adam Lawley, but the loss of Best made little difference to the visitor’s response.
With Haley batting with confidence and style, and now partnered by Chris Whittock, the new pairing kept the scoreboard ticking over and added another 62 runs in 12 overs.
The loss of Whittock (28) at 172, and then Tom Lewis (8) at 186 could have set the alarm bells ringing and caused panic to set in, but the experienced Nick James (20 not out) calmly guided Berkswell through to victory and celebration for Haley who hit the winning runs and remained unbeaten on 104 off 116 balls.
This Saturday, Berkswell return to Meeting House Lane to face Walsall who were promoted to the Premier Division this season.