Barnt Green title hopes fade
Barnt Green’s grip on the Trophy they won in 2011 was loosened further when they slumped to a 65 run defeat to current Premier Division leaders Walsall and now they face a massive task to stay in the title race.
Batting first, after losing the toss for only the second time this season, Walsall made their customary blistering start as Jack Manuel (31) and Christiaan Jonker (28) blasted them to 50 in the eighth over.
When these two were dismissed, the game reverted to a more sedate pace as Alex McChristie (29) and Paul Byrne (20) saw them to 170 all out in 54.2 overs.
The wickets for Barnt Green were shared between Stephen Bevan (3-34), Andy Sutton (3-37), Richard Wilkinson (2-24) and Dougie Brown (2-36).
After tea, some magnificently straight seam bowling by former Cannock teenager Josh Bowker, who took the first four wickets, reduced Barnt Green to 35 for five before Brown (19) and Adam Smith (20 not out) affected a partial improvement to 105 all out.
The last wicket partnership of 23 was the highest of the innings while Bowker, who boosted his claims for inclusion in the Staffordshire side, finished with 5-26 in nine overs.
Barnt Green, who have conceded tomorrow’s Graham Williamson Trophy Semi-Final to Shrewsbury will now, switch their attention to next weekend’s Kingfisher Cup Quarter-Final tie when they hope their fortunes will improve after a disappointing weekend.
Fellow Kingfisher Cup Quarter-Finalists Kidderminster Victoria enjoyed a much better day, cantering to a six wicket success over second in the table Berkswell who trail the leaders by 25 points following this defeat.
Former Warwickshire batsman Dominic Ostler scored 30 and current County all-rounder Tom Milnes hit 24 but Berkswell slipped to 119 all out with one ball remaining in their innings which was restricted to 50 overs, due to a late start.
Steady batting from Ben Cox (38), Zac Turley (28 not out), Andy Kimberlin (23) and Neil Pinner (21) eased Kidderminster to victory after they lost their first wicket without any runs on the board.
Himley drew level with Berkswell on 165 points with a routine seven wicket win over bottom of the table Wellington.
Ashfak Hussain took 4-25 before Rajat Bhatia (46 not out) and Greg Wright (34) maintained Himley’s position as the side most likely to challenge Walsall for the title.
Wolverhampton will also fancy their title chances despite being held to a winning draw by Knowle & Dorridge who continue to confound the predictions of those pundits who believed that they would be challengers for the much prized Championship trophy.
Worcestershire youngster Tom Fell hit an unbeaten 115 and skipper Dan Bowyer added 40 in an impressive total of 235 for five, for Wolverhampton, before K & D meandered to 170 for six in response.
Staffordshire all-rounder Attiq Chishti, not for the first time, this season, held the fort for the visitors with an unbeaten 78.
By far the biggest total of the day came at Sandwell Park, where West Bromwich Dartmouth smashed their way to 301 for five, in 55 overs, after being invited to bat first by Brockhampton.
Staffordshire openers James Campbell (70) and Kadeer Ali (127 not out) put on 127 for the first wicket before Ali and Navdeep Poonia (74) added 119 for the third wicket.
Herefordshire skipper Chris Boroughs conceded 109 runs in 11 overs. In reply, Adam Hewlett (56) and Ben Stubbings (20) opened up with 75 but the chase became too difficult despite 51 from Herefordshire’s David Exall and 31 from Wiltshire’s Henry Langford. Aatif Ali (4-51) took four wickets for 9 runs in his second spell for Dartmouth as Brockhampton finished on 207 for eight.
An extraordinary feature of the Dartmouth innings was the total in the extras column – nil! Dartmouth’s recent form has seen them move away from danger at the foot of the table and Shrewsbury’s six wicket victory over Leamington Spa has made them more comfortable, as well as increasing the pressure on their victims and their local rivals Wellington.
Warwickshire Academy batsman Mark Best hit five boundaries in a patient 35 for Leamington but the Spa side’s decision to bat first backfired as Rob Foster took a League best 6-20 to reduce them to 114 all out.
After the loss of four wickets for 64, Shrewsbury were steered to victory by Overseas Player Ryan Bishop (52 not out) and Shropshire’s Tom Cox (27 not out). Warwickshire all-rounder Paul Best took all four wickets at a cost of 37.