9th Dec, 2016

Victory over Walsall sees Berkswell extend their lead at the top

Solihull Editorial 12th Jul, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

BERKSWELL moved 19 points clear at the top of the Birmingham Premier League table after another comprehensive victory this time by 228 runs against Walsall.

Asked to bat first on a track appearing to give the batsmen the prospect of runs and the bowlers helpful pace and bounce, Berkswell suffered an early shock when  Mark Best (0) was bowled out in the first over.

Oliver Haley and Chris Whittock however, avoided any further sudden batting upsets and compiled a 12 over partnership of 49 runs before Whittock (20) edged behind and was caught by Jamie Middleton.

The departure of Whittock brought Darren Maddy to the crease and the former Warwickshire skipper was soon into his stride with a series of fours.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Haley was continuing where he left off the previous week and was striking with ball with confidence and power, and pairing had the scoreboard rapidly moving.

Over the course of the next 23 overs the partnership added 133 runs until Haley (94) was unlucky to just miss out on his second century in seven days, when he was well caught at mid-on by Rohit Suglani.

With Maddy now in total control of the visitor’s bowling – his fifty coming off only 59 balls – and new batsman Tom Lewis also punishing any bad balls, the duo added a brisk 69 runs in only 8 overs.

However, with the score on 254, Lewis (24) was bowled by David Powles in the 45th over.  Tom Milnes replaced Lewis and immediately carried on the assault on the beleaguered Walsall attack.  In just six overs he and Maddy added 65 runs with Milnes taking 22 runs off a single over from Ed Denham.  With the scoreboard reading 313 for 4, skipper Dominic Ostler declared the innings in the 51st over with Maddy remaining 126 not out off 111 balls, and Milnes 45 not out off only 23 balls.

The Walsall reply started briskly with openers Middleton and Paul Wicker taking 10 runs off the first two overs, but Middleton (6) was then caught at mid-on by Whittock to give Milnes his first wicket in the third over.   Wicker and Ben Ladd-Gibbon kept the run scoring momentum going, but when Wicker (23) drove hard at a quicker ball from Milnes the ball travelled at speed to the waiting hands of Ostler at slip who took an amazing catch with his customary aplomb to leave the visitors on 42 for 2 in the 9th over.  However, the introduction into the attack of Grant Thornton in the 10th over effectively ended the contest.  Bowling with incredible pace he quickly removed Bruce Thomason (0) caught at fine leg by Whittock, Jack Warren (0) bowled, Powles (2) caught at deep square leg by Nick James, and then Ladd-Gibbon (31) bowled.  In the space of 8 overs Walsall had been reduced to 66 for 6 and this soon became 72 for 8 as Thornton then removed Steven Plant (3) bowled, and Jordan Stynes (0) also bowled.  At the end of his spell Thornton returned figures of 9 overs 3 maidens 6 for 14.  Meanwhile, Nick James was also applying pressure from the other end and claimed the wicket of Denham (11) in the 29th over.  The visitor’s final wicket fell in the 30th over when Jonathan Moore (1) was bowled by Maddy.