Walsall fall to first defeat
While Walsall were tasting defeat for the first time in 16 games, second placed Himley missed an opportunity to reduce the lead to 13 points when skipper Stuart Wedge failed to score a single off the last ball of their game with Kidderminster Victoria.
With one ball remaining, Himley’s total stood on 219 for six, level with the visitors’ total of 219 for nine, but Wedge’s failure to make contact leaves Walsall 21 points ahead in the Birmingham Premier League.
This is despite their seven wicket defeat at Berkswell, a result that enables the visitors to move level with Himley on 200 points.
Leaders Walsall raced to 128 for four in 24 overs, with Tim Maxfield leading the way with 70 but a middle and late order collapse saw them stumble from 169 for four to 189 all out, despite 35 from Paul Byrne and 31 from Alex McChristie.
Chris Cheslin (4-42) and Babar Khan (3-38) were their chief tormentors before Cheslin (53 not out), Dominic Ostler (42 not out), Tom Milnes (31 not out) and Jack Cormick (31) eased Berkswell to victory and reignited their title claims.
Worcestershire pair Neil Pinner (98) and Matt Pardoe (67) contributed most to Kidderminster’s total while Greg Wright (67) matched Pardoe’s score to set up a winning position for Himley, who have left the door open to a late challenge from Wolverhampton and Brockhampton following victories against Barnt Green and Wellington.
Barnt Green won the toss and batted first at Danescourt but an impressive 5-44 from Johannes Bothma restricted them to 167 for nine, with skipper Dougie Brown top scoring with 35 for the visitors.
Vishal Tripathi (69 not out) and Tom Fell (47 not out) ensured that Wolverhampton cantered to a seven wicket victory with more than 12 overs in hand.
Meanwhile, Brockhampton’s crushing eight wicket win over Wellington leaves the Shropshire side 74 points short of safety at the foot of the table.
Chris Boroughs (5-55) and Charlie Griffiths (3-22) combined to dismiss Wellington for 106, after they won the toss and batted first, before Henry Langford (44 not out) and Ben Stebbings (37 not out) set up an easy win for the Herefordshire side who remain on the fringe of the title race, level with Wolverhampton, 41 points behind the leaders.
Another side struggling at the bottom of the table is Leamington Spa who failed to increase the pressure on 10th placed West Bromwich Dartmouth despite reaching 170 for three in reply to Dartmouth’s 250 for seven.
Rawlston Tappin hit an undefeated 104 for Dartmouth and shared a partnership of 88 for the fourth Dartmouth wicket with Navdeep Poonia (38). A century from Alex Phillips took Leamington into a commanding position but Aatif Ali stepped up to take 4-44 to reduce them to 215 for eight at the close.
Leamington now trail Dartmouth by 50 points and it looks increasingly likely that they and Wellington will be relegated. Shrewsbury’s recovery from a disappointing first half of the season continued with a powerful performance against misfiring Knowle & Dorridge.
A stand of 128 between Joe Leach (95) and Steven Leach (59) was the highlight of the Shrewsbury total of 233 for five but K & D appeared well on course to make an assault on their target when David Hemp (52) and David Smith (51) took them to 93 without loss at the start of the 30th over.
A collapse to 126 for seven followed and K & D were content to hang on at 166 for seven at the close with Elliott Green taking 3-19 and Alex Blofield bagging 3-51 for Shrewsbury.