CRICKET: BERKSWELL fell just short of victory away at Barnt Green following a nail-biting finale but Saturday’s draw enabled the visitors to increase their lead at the top of the Birmingham Premier League to 52 points.
Openers Darren Maddy and Mark Best had to battle hard on a track that gave seam bowlers Andrew Sutton and Luke Radford plenty of encouragement with some appreciable early movement.
However, their cautious approach was broken when Best (5) was caught in the gully with the score on 14 in the ninth over.
Both Maddy and Chris Whittock found scoring difficult but when the Barnt Green bowlers were replaced by Karan Gour and Daryl Williams the Berkswell duo were able to increase the scoring rate.
Over the next eight overs the score progressed to 60 and by the end of the 27th over the scoreboard was showing 101.
The reintroduction of Radford into the attack had an immediate effect when he dismissed Maddy on 49 to leave the visitors on 112 for 2.
Whittock was now batting with confidence and taking full advantage of any loose balls by dispatching them to the boundary, although new partner Oliver Haley (6) was soon dismissed by Radford.
With three wickets lost and just 122 runs on the scoreboard by the 34th over, Tom Milnes provided some much needed acceleration into the Berkswell batting display with 47 runs from 35 balls before being bowled out bu Banton.
With the quest for quick runs continuing, Nick James (7) and skipper Dominic Ostler (3) both lost their wickets cheaply to the bowling of Banton, but Whittock continued to keep the scoreboard moving and reached his century in the 51st over.
However, in the 53rd over Whittock (107) was eventually bowled by Radford with the total on 243 and a sparkling four ball innings from Liam Gately (12) helped push the score up to 259 while Grant Thornton and Ahmed Mohammed safely negotiated the last over and added another nine runs.
Barnt Green’s reply got off to the worst possible start after losing Tom Banton (6) early on with just 14 points on the board and the hosts were left on 41 for 2 when Ethan Holmes was bowled by Milnes.
However, these two wickets were to be the only successes the visitors would have for the next 26 overs as Ed Pollock and Matthew Lamb compiled a 126 run partnership that put Barnt Green in a strong position.
With the scoreboard now reading 167 for 2, Pollock (94) was eventually bowled by Mohammmed Ahmed but Luke Radford came to the crease to keep the scoreboard moving towards the winning target.
With just seven overs left to go in the innings, and 45 runs required for victory, Ostler brought back Milnes and Thornton into the attack and the move proved to be masterful as Milnes had potential match winner Lamb (83) caught behind in the 49th over and then dismissed Radford (26) too.
In the 52nd over Thornton claimed the wickets of Tom Brown (4) and then Lee Tyrell (0) before Milnes clean bowled Williams (0) to add to the excitement that had seen Barnt Green collapse from 223 for 3 to 238 for 8 in the space of five overs.
Same Cheshire (7) was Thornton’s third victim which gave Berkswell 11 balls to claim the last wicket and the win but Andrew Sutton and Karan Gour survived under immense pressure as the hosts held out for a draw.