Walsall lead cut despite win
Walsall cruised to a comfortable seven wicket win against Knowle & Dorridge but their lead at the top of the Premier Division table was cut to four points, due to Himley’s 38 run victory at Brockhampton.
After losing the toss at Gorway, K & D struggled to 41 without loss from 20 overs and 113 for one from 40 overs against a mean Walsall attack, who tightened the screw even further to restrict their opponents to 167 for six at the end of the permitted 55 overs.
David Hemp laboured his way to 64 in eight minutes short of three hours, while Staffordshire all-rounder Attiq Chishti contributed 40. Walsall skipper David Powles, back in charge after a short visit to South Africa, took five of the wickets to fall at a cost of 42.
K & D were dealt a blow when stumper Richard Johnson, next in to bat, was called up at 1.30pm as an emergency replacement for Warwickshire in the CB40 semi-final at Old Trafford.
In keeping with the Spirit of Cricket, Walsall, generously, allowed K & D to replace Johnson, even though he had been named on the team sheet.
In reply, Walsall lost Monday’s century-maker James Middleton without scoring but a third wicket partnership of 98 between Tim Maxfield (74) and Alex McChristie (61 not out) eased Walsall to 20 points and kept their noses in front with two games remaining.
Himley’s bold decision to bat first, after winning the toss, was rewarded with a 24 point victory after they scored 223 runs for nine, in 55 overs, at Brockhampton.
Greg Wright (65), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (63) and Chris Tranter (46) saw Himley to a competitive total against some miserly spin bowling from Owen Price (5-58) and Charlie Griffiths (3-45) before Danny Smith (4-37) and Ashfak Hussein (3-45) reduced the hosts to 185 all out with Wiltshire’s Henry Langford scoring 48.
Third placed Berkswell trail Walsall by 28 points but they maintained their increasingly outside chance of the title with a crushing 131 run success over an erratic West Bromwich Dartmouth side who continue to misfire against anything resembling a decent attack.
Phil Neale (60) and Dominic Ostler (56) hit half-centuries in Berkswell’s total of 199 with Aatif Ali taking 4-70 for Dartmouth.
A superb spell of seam bowling by Zimbabwean International Ed Rainsford (7-34) put paid to Dartmouth whose failings were not due to Rawlston Tappin, who hit 41 in an abject total of 68 all out.
Wolverhampton are not out of it, mathematically, but it will take a remarkable slip-up by the leading three for them to lift the title. They stayed in the race by beating Leamington Spa who require maximum points from their last two games to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
After slipping to 25 for three, Wolverhampton recovered to 225 all out, following a partnership of 136 for the fourth wicket between Vishal Tripathi (82) and Aneesh Kapil (67) before Jack Hawkes stepped in to take 5-34 for the Spa side.
In reply, Leamington slumped to 25 for three but David Bailey (47), Lee Hopkins (35 not out) and David Hawkes (35) helped them to 191 all out but K & D are the only side that they can drag into the relegation zone.
Already relegated Wellington crashed to a nine wicket defeat at Kidderminster Victoria after they were dismissed for 127.
Matthew Tilt hit 39 but Neil Pinner took 3-14 and two wickets apiece for Gareth Williams, Connor Smith and Mark Mansell proved too much for the Shropshire outfit.
After losing Andy Kimberlin with the total on 19, the Worcestershire pair of Pinner (65 not out) and Matt Pardoe (56 not out) rushed Kidderminster to an easy victory and they will prove a formidable obstacle, next week, as Walsall travel to Chester Road in search of another win that will keep them at the top of the table.
In a mid-table clash at London Road, Shrewsbury were defeated by Barnt Green by 61 runs. Craig Crowe (36) top scored for Barnt Green with Alex Blofield the best of the home bowlers with 3-24.
Shrewsbury collapsed to 115 all out, in reply, with Stephen Bevan taking 4-35 to strengthen his position as one of the leading wicket takers in the Division.