Saturday saw the first team entertain fellow high flyers Harborne, and their hopes of promotion were dented by a four-wicket defeat. Batting first, we were indebted to Mohammed Ishtiaq (70) who provided the bulk of our 144 all out. In reply, despite the best efforts of Nihal Shilar (2-35) and Aqab Ahmed (3-53), Harborne reached their victory target for the loss of six wickets.
The second team travelled to Bromsgrove where their hosts batted first after winning the toss, closing their innings on an impressive 253-5. Richard James, Liam Kettle and Ian Brown all took a wicket apiece in support of Joe Marson who was the pick of the bowlers with 2-29. Our batting never really threatened to get close to the target with Jack Pope (28) and Joe Oakley (28 not out) top scoring as we were bowled out for 139.
Penn hosted the third team, and we were dismissed for 183 when batting first with Ollie Deakin (26), Myles Davis (30) and Steve Jones (59) the major contributors. In return Davis (2-34), Tom Porter (3-21) and Chris Green (4-47) bowled excellently for us to ensure a 26-run victory for their team.
The fourth team hosted Rugeley, and the visitors posted an impressive 219-9 as Rob Baker (2-53), Will Birch (3-11) and Duncan Horobin (4-55) all contributed well with the ball. We were then bowled out for 136 with Baker (27) and Horobin (47) the only batsmen to make any real contribution.
On Sunday, a mixed eleven hosted the Shropshire Disability Squad as the visitors finalised their preparations for their National Final against Hampshire next weekend. We batted first and posted a very impressive 259-7 with half centuries from Jack Pope, Gary Pope and Ross Parker as Zahid (2-40), Callum Rigby (2-27), and Myles Davis guesting for the Shropshire team (2-27) all took wickets. The Shropshire reply closed on 223-9 after 40 overs, with Richard James taking five wickets for us and Kev Baker (105 not out) top scoring for Shropshire.
So, with two weeks to go the first team look likely to narrowly miss out on promotion after the reverse at the weekend. The second team are currently fourth from bottom in their tough division and both sides look likely to be playing in the revamped Staffs Clubs Championship next year after a re-organisation of the Birmingham League to just two divisions. The win for the third team has lifted them out of the relegation places in their division (where they play mainly against first and second teams), whilst the fourth team are just below halfway in their division, an unlikely promotion challenge having been stalled by the loss of points after teams dropping out of the league.
For me, a trip to Bromsgrove on Saturday with the second team. A really nice ground to play at, even if the result against strong opposition was not what we were looking for. Two catches and a stumping – as well as a difficult chance dropped – behind the stumps, and a few runs towards the end of the innings before being caught behind off a faint edge. The highlight of the day of the day for me was just managing to see Wolves late winner at West Ham before going in to bat, which sums up the day’s cricket...
Then, on Sunday I captained the Shropshire D40 side against a Penkridge team in a very entertaining game. A narrow defeat for a depleted Shropshire team was a good effort, as well as being excellent preparation for our National Final next weekend and it was pleasing for me personally to bat well in making an unbeaten 105 against my usual team mates!
No Penkridge game for me personally as I will be travelling to Arundel for Sunday’s game with Shropshire, but hopefully all four teams can put in strong performances on the penultimate weekend of the season.