Half-centuries from Sam Beadsworth and captain Tom Foster, as well as four wickets for Alex Baker helped send Birkenhead Park CC 1st XI into the Ray Digman Trophy quarter-finals last Sunday after they chased down 236 against Southport and Birkdale.
S and B captain Chris Cunningham won the toss and elected to bat first on a scorching hot day at Park Drive.
Park didn’t take long to make a breakthrough as Baker found the outside edge of JJ Fielding’s bat for 1. The catch taken sharply at second slip by Steve Hird. The score 25 for 1.
Isaac Lea and Johnathon Whitehead found their stride and saw off the new ball, on their way to a fruitful 75 run partnership, with the former reaching a well-made half century. Lea’s stay at the crease was then ended for 53 (53 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes), as the off-spin of Mark Rowland beat the right-hander’s defences with the score on 100.
Whitehead passed fifty as he began to dominate the scoring for S and B, with some large maximums over wide long-on and straight down the ground. Partnerships of 45 and 38 respectively for the third and fourth wickets saw Southport accelerate to 195-4. It also saw Whitehead reach an excellent hundred, as the visitors looked to post an imposing total.
Whitehead was eventually dismissed for 103 (109 balls, 8 fours and 7 sixes) as Beadsworth removed the bails off the bowling of Rowland. This turned the tide for Park, who controlled proceedings at the death. Three quick wickets from Baker restricted Southport to 235 for 8 from their 45 overs, which was an excellent finish from Park, who feared they’d be chasing more following Whitehead’s century and the batting-friendly conditions.
The six foot eight inch Alex Baker, alongside Rowland were the pick of the bowlers for Park, finishing with figures of 4 for 42 and 2 for 38 respectively, from their nine overs.
Park were set back early in reply as Ahmad Safi Abdullah was well caught by Romario Brathwaite off the bowling of Thomas Crew for 8.
Rowland and Matty Langford began to take on the S and B bowling and set Park on their way in the run chase. The pair struck a series of impressive boundaries in a 68-run partnership for the second wicket. However, the pair were both dismissed in the same Chris Firth over, including Rowland for an aggressive 40, who was dismissed by a stunning one-handed diving catch, on the mid-wicket boundary, by Bobby Wincer. Park now 72 for 3.
This bought Beadsworth and Foster together, who settled any Park nerves by rebuilding the innings, whilst still keeping the scoreboard moving. Both were chanceless as they reached half centuries and put Park well in control of the chase.
The partnership reached 125 before Foster found Alex Halsall of the bowling of Firth for 56 (76 balls, 5 fours). The score reached 215 before Beadsworth holed out off the bowling of Cunningham for 68 (75 balls, 5 fours) and made the game slightly interesting once again.
Hird put any tension to rest, as a calm 16 not out helped take Park closer to the victory target, before Baker guided the ball to the deep point boundary, to take Park to the win by four wickets. The result was well celebrated by a large crowd at Park Drive, who had supported the home side magnificently all day.
It was an excellent performance from Park, with Foster and Beadsworth’s partnership the highlight, as they timed the chase brilliantly. The win takes Park into the quarter finals of the competition, where they will travel to Northern, hoping to keep the dreams of multiple honours alive.