A SUPERB innings from Mark Best enabled Berkswell to come away from Cherry Hill Road with the victory that keeps them in contact with the Birmingham Premier League league leaders.
Winning the toss and electing to field, Berkswell skipper Dominic Ostler must have wondered if he had made the correct decision as the Barnt Green openers Sam Cheshire and Luke Radford blasted 30 runs off the first three overs.
Entering the match without frontline bowlers Tom Milnes, Dave Brignull or Chris Cheslin, part time bowler Chris Whittock was called into action as an opening bowler, but after a single over he was replaced by Mark Best who had success with his second ball when he bowled Cheshire (12).
A 64 run partnership over the next 12 overs between Radford and Ed Pollock moved the hosts to 94 before Best claimed another wicket – Pollock (38) caught by Dan Worrall. Radford, however, looked at ease and was rarely troubled by the Berkswell attack who struggled to make another breakthrough, and over the next 13 overs Radford and Matthew Lamb added another 55 runs.
With the scoreboard reading 149 Lamb (30) was bowled by Worrall but it would be another 12 overs before the visitors had their next success when Andy Sutton (33) was stumped by Oliver Haley off Mohammed Ahmed’s bowling to leave Barnt Green on 205 for 4.
With ten overs left in the innings the Berkswell bowlers finally gained the upper hand claiming the wickets of Radford (95), William Baker (13), and Alastair Pollock (0) in quick succession to leave the hosts on 235 for 7 in the 47th over.
Two wickets in the 53rd over left Barnt Green on 267 for 9 and the innings closed on 274 in the final over when Worrall had Tom Brown (21) caught by Oliver Haley behind the stumps. Worrall proved the best of the Berkswell bowlers picking up 5 for 83.
With Nick James still suffering from the effects of a broken finger, Berkswell opened their innings with Mark Best and Amir Shabir and after a couple of cautious opening overs Best cut loose and proceeded to give a magnificent batting display.
In a 15 over first wicket partnership of 72 runs Best contributed 58 and although Shabir only made 8 before he was caught and bowled by Radford, he provided vital support to Best.
New batsman Chris Whittock kept the support for Best going whilst also adding to the scoreboard himself, and In the 25th over with the scoreboard reading 132 Best reached his century.
With the runs continuing to come at a rapid pace off Best’s bat, the visitors to Cherry Hill Road were well up with the required run rate, but in the 35th over Whittock (33) was caught at slip by Radford off the leg spin bowling of Darrel Williams to leave Berkswell on 177 for 2.
Ostler kept the run scoring going with a couple of well struck fours as Berkswell kept moving towards the victory total but, having made 16, he was caught behind off the thinnest of edges again off the bowling of Williams.
At 200 for 3 under 19’s junior player Steven Sandhu made his way to the crease to join Best. The partnership added 32 runs in only 5 overs but it came to an end when Best (152) attempted a pull shot and was caught by Matthew Lamb at square leg.
Haley (9) lost his wicket in the 49th over at 252 when he was also caught at slip by Radford off Williams, but Sandhu (32 not out) and Nick James (12 not out) guided Berkswell through to victory in the 54th over.