Berkswell opened up their defence of the Birmingham League title with an emphatic 9 wicket victory over newly promoted Shifnal.
Invited to bat first after home skipper Dominic Ostler won the toss, the visitors to Meeting House Lane soon discovered the difference in class between premier division two cricket and division one. In the space of the first five overs their top order batsmen were destroyed by the pace of Tom Milnes (3 for 29) and the experience of veteran seamer Dave Brignull (1 for 23). At 12 for 4 at the start of the sixth over it was not looking good for Shifnal, but James Sookias and skipper Chris Murrall stopped the loss of wickets and compiled a patient 65 run partnership. The pairing was finally broken when Sookias (30) was trapped lbw by Berkswell debutant Dan Mousley. Murrall and Ewan Wentworth kept the scoreboard moving with a partnership of 51 until Mousley (2 for 30) picked up his second wicket having Wentworth (16) caught at extra cover by Nick James. The loss of Murrall (70), stumped by Chris Whittock off the bowling of left arm spinner Mohammed Ahmed, at 158 ended the likelihood of the visitors reaching the 200 runs mark and the innings came to a close at the end of the 50th over on 178 for 7.
In reply, Berkswell openers Mousley and Danial Chaudhry made run scoring look easy and never looked in any danger against the visitor’s low quality bowling attack. With the 100 coming up in the 22nd over and the 150 in the 33rd, a ten wicket victory seemed inevitable. Disappointingly, however, that was not to be as England Under 19 international Mousley, who had batted with confidence and maturity beyond his years, agonisingly fell eight runs short of a well deserved maiden century for Berkswell when he was caught at mid-off with the score on 161. Chaudhry (65 not out) and Whittock (10 not out) finally saw Berkswell through to the required total and victory in the 38th over.
On Saturday Berkswell will face a sterner test when they travel to Shrewsbury who had a comprehensive eight wicket away win at Barnt Green last week.