92 from Mark Rowland and 82 from captain Tom Foster helped Birkenhead Park 1st XI chase a mammoth 261 inside 47 overs against New Brighton, on Saturday. This followed Parks excellent win away at St. Helens Town, on Friday, to secure a place in finals day of the Liverpool Echo T20 Knockout.
Park won the toss and elected to bowl on a warm Saturday at Park Drive, knowing the wicket would only get better as the day progressed.
Bailey Jones began proceedings for Park, as New Brighton captain Adam Neal flashed at a wide delivery, edging behind to Steve Hird for 10. The score 12 for 1.
David While and Owais Shah got the New Brighton innings underway, as they found the boundary, but both fell in quick succession, finding fielders off the bowling of David Nevin, for 14 and 22 respectively. Park in control, with the score 63 for 3.
Dan Cooke and Seb Botes then took advantage of the batting-friendly conditions and put on New Brighton’s first substantial partnership of the day. The pair scored freely as they put on 85 for the fourth wicket.
Cooke passed fifty, to go along with his hundred in the reverse fixture at Rake Lane, and had three figures in his sights again, but Khalid Wahbi ended his stay at the crease for 61 (68 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes). Foster taking the catch at cover. The score 148 for 4.
Seb, now joined by his brother Louis, also passed fifty as the pair continued to accelerate the scoring. They took the score up to 194, before Seb holed out to Jones, off the bowling of Foster, for 55 (73 balls, 7 fours).
Louis continued to motor along, reaching a half-century of his own, and alongside Luke Terry, helped New Brighton past the 250-run mark. Louis suffered the same fate as brother Seb, and fell to Foster, for 58 (60 balls, 6 fours, 1 six), before the next over Jones picked up his Aussie compatriot Terry for 27.
Not long after, Neal called time on the New Brighton innings, with his side well placed at 260 for 7. The 1s knew it would be a tough chase but were left encouraged by the conditions on display.
Park were forced back immediately, as Mike Barnes was dismissed by Louis, first ball. However, Wahbi and Rowland showed calm heads, and settled things down, setting Park on their way in the run chase.
The pair quickly found their stride as Wahbi took Seb for consecutive boundaries in the sixth over, including a hook shot for 6. Rowland also imposed himself on proceedings, with a hook, nearly from one knee, to the long boundary, as well as an authoritative slap off the back foot, over cover, for four.
The pair had raced the scoring to 100 in the 21st over, setting an excellent platform for Park in the chase. A hat-trick of boundaries from an Ollie Griffiths over saw Rowland pass fifty, as Park began to take control of the contest. New Brighton needing a spark to reignite their hopes in the game.
The change to spin from Neal paid dividends, as While had Wahbi controversially caught behind, for a well-made 44, which really deserved to be a fifty. The score now 112 for 2.
Skipper Foster and Rowland carried on the quick scoring for Park, milking the New Brighton spinners round the ground, finding regular boundaries, including Rowland striking While for an impressive maximum.
Foster reached fifty, just over a run-a-ball, as he gave himself room to crunch Elliot Griffiths through extra-cover for four. Rowland then fell to While for an excellent 92 (104 balls, 12 fours, 1 six), which again deserved to be three figures. The catch from Terry ending the 89-run stand between Rowland and Foster, leaving Park in firm control, at 202 for 3.
Park still had work to do to reach the 260 set by New Brighton, with Foster and Hird now at the crease. The effervescent wicket-keeper batsmen ran hard between the wickets, as always, and supported his skipper superbly, as the game was deep into the last hour.
Hird then joined Foster in taking the New Brighton spinners to pieces, as he struck four quick boundaries, to take the required runs for Park into single figures. With the 1s just one hit away, Foster looked to end the game in style, but was clean bowled for 82 (82 balls, 12 fours), by While.
It was left for Matty Langford to belt Louis over backward point for four to give Park a memorable victory and spark great joy on the sidelines. Hird finished 26 not out, as Park made light work of the chase, reaching victory inside just 47 overs.
The 20 points takes the 1s up to fifth in the Premier League table, as they travel to second place Ormskirk next week, as well as making the trip to Northern, for the quarter-finals of the Ray-Digman Trophy.
This win followed Park’s professional 44-run win over St. Helens Town in the quarter-final of Liverpool Echo T20 Knockout, last Friday.
On a tough wicket at Ruskin Drive, Park posted a respectable 148 for 9 from 20 overs. Mark Rowland the star again for Park, scoring 73 from 51 balls (7 fours, 2 sixes), as Town skipper David Gaskell took 5 for 33 from 4 overs to help keep a lid on the Park innings.
In reply, St. Helens only managed 104 all out from 19 overs, despite a battling fifty from keeper-batsmen Dan Roberts. All the bowlers picked up wickets for Park, but standouts were; 3 for 31 from Louie Evans, 1-7 from 4 overs for Khalid Wahbi and 2 for 19 from Alex Baker.
The win takes Park to finals day, where the club has received the excellent news that they will host the day on 21 August. The 1s await the winners of Ormskirk vs Northern in the semi-finals.
The 2s unfortunately fell to a four-wicket defeat against Lytham 2nd XI on Saturday in another high-scoring clash.
Park batted first and amassed an impressive 269 all out from 43 overs. Chris Parker top scored for the 2s with a commanding 90 from just 70 balls (13 fours, 2 sixes). This was backed up by 66 from skipper Danny Jordan (80 balls, 13 fours), 34 from just 17 balls by Louie Evans and 23 from Charlie Jones.
However, table toppers Lytham took advantage of the batting-friendly conditions and chased down the runs in the 48th over, for the loss of six wickets, despite four wickets from Jordan.
The defeat leaves the 2s in fifth, still 44 points adrift of Lytham, with a game in hand. Next up for the 2s is a home tie against Sefton Park on Saturday, as they look to close the gap to the top of the table.
The 3rd XI also came second on Saturday as Merseyside Cricket and Cultural club came out victorious by 168 runs. The visitors amassed 323 for 6 from just 36 overs, despite three wickets for Mason Cockcroft. In reply Park fell to 323 all out from 37 overs. Dom Hogarth top scoring with a valiant 80 for the 3s. The result leaves Park in sixth with Northern 3rd XI making the trip to Cannon Hill on Saturday.
The 4th XI were unfortunately beaten by four wickets against Northop Hall 4th XI on Saturday. Park fell to 62 all out in the 30th over, with Sam Hubble top scoring with 23. The 4s fought back with the ball and made life difficult for the hosts, as Daniel Lloyd-Green took three wickets before Northop Hall chased down the victory target for the loss of six wickets. The defeat leaves Park in eleventh with a trip to Bootle 3rd XI on Saturday.