CRICKET: BERKSWELL moved 13 points clear at the top of the Birmingham Premier League following a three wicket win against West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon.
The result makes Saturday’s fixture against second place Knowle and Dorridge an exciting prospect in a game which could have implications on the outcome of the league title at the end of the season.
Batting first, West Bromwich Dartmouth were pegged down throughout their innings by excellent bowling from the Berkswell side.
Making his first appearance of the season, Tom Milnes made the early breakthrough having Kadeer Ali (14) caught behind by Liam Gately in the tenth over with the score on 28.
A break for rain at the start of the 18th over disrupted the flow of the Dartmouth innings.
Liam Banks (22) was caught at slip by Dominic Ostler off the bowling of David Brignull two balls after the restart to leave the visitors on 65/2.
Brignull then proceeded to remove the next three batsmen Abid Ali (4), Amit John (37) and Ruki De Silva (14) over the course of the next 17 overs a position that left Dartmouth on 111/5.
The re-introduction into the attack of Ryan Sidebottom in the 41st over saw the removal of the stubborn Brinder Phagura (30) and then Kasir Shah (2) and Shozair Ali (0) in the 43rd.
A brilliant piece of fielding from Mark Best removed Rawlston Tappin (7) run out, and Nick James finally dismissed Ian Stevenson (2) to bring the Dartmouth innings to a close on 143 in the 46th over. David Brignull finished with figures of 25/4, and Ryan Sidebottom with 21/3.
In reply, Berkswell lost Mark Best (1) in the third over when De Silva held a sharp catch in the gully.
However a second wicket partnership of 36 between Mohammed Ahmed and Chris Whittock meant the home side survived a good opening spell from Phagura and Shozair Ali.
With the Dartmouth bowlers bowling with as much pace and accuracy as the Berkswell attack, the home side also found run scoring difficult and the loss of Whittock (23) and Alex Hepburn (0) in quick succession left the Meeting House Lane side on 40 for 3 in the 15th over.
Ahmed and Tom Lewis kept the scoreboard ticking over and had moved the score on to 78 when Ahmed (22) was caught behind by Stevenson off the bowling of Shah.
Tom Milnes then joined Lewis in the middle as the pair managed to find the boundary with Lewis hitting a particularly powerful straight six.
But having put together a partnership of 29 in six overs, Lewis (25) was bowled by Shah.
Milnes and Nick James kept edging Berkswell towards the required total and had advanced the score to 123 when Milnes (29) was caught at mid-off to give Kadeer Ali a wicket in his first over.
Skipper Ostler (6*) and James then brought Berkswell to within two runs of victory when James (13) was dismissed having been caught at square leg by John from a Shah delivery to give the bowler a third wicket.
Liam Gately (2*) then hit the winning runs off the last ball of the 43rd over to maintain Berkswell’s 100 per cent winning record.
A delighted Dominic Ostler said: “That was another good win for us especially as Dartmouth are one of the strongest sides in the league.
“Being clear at the top of the table is a good place to be at this stage of the season.
“With Knowle & Dorridge just thirteen points behind us, it makes Saturday’s fixture an important encounter for both clubs.”
Photos: Manjit Narotra.