Birkenhead Park CC – Safi and Stirrup lead 1s and 2s to Newton double

It was another excellent weekend for Birkenhead Park CC 1st XI as they recorded their fifth win in a row, following a dominant win 89-run win, away at Newton-le-Willows 1st XI.

Park were put into bat, as Newton captain Christopher Chambers elected to bowl first, on a green looking wicket. Rain halted the start of play, but Mark Rowland and Mike Barnes got the 1s off to a flier, notching up a fifty partnership inside the first nine overs.

The pair had struck 11 boundaries between them before Rowland fell to Afaq Ali Sartaj for 22, with the score on 68. The home side began to regain control of the scoring, as they picked up another two quick wickets, including that of Barnes for a well-compiled 45. The score now 82 for 3.

Skipper Tom Foster and Ahmad Safi Abdullah came together and quickly moved Park past 100 with the latter taking a fancy to Siddiq Patel’s bowling. The pair scored freely as it began to rain boundaries at ‘The Lane’.

It took just 13 overs for Foster and Safi to put on 108 runs, with Foster reaching his fifth league fifty of the season in the process. On reaching the milestone, the Park captain launched an attack of his own off Patel’s bowling, taking 23 runs off one over, including two fours and two massive sixes.

The next over, Foster eventually fell to Ben Walkden for 62 (58 balls, 8 fours, 3 sixes), but had helped put his side in a commanding position, in tricky conditions. The score 190 for 4.

Safi reached fifty and then blasted three sixes off one Luke Yates over, putting Park further in control, who were scoring at a more than healthy six runs per over. Another boundary off Walkden’s bowling and some quick running with Steve Hird, resulted in an early but very positive declaration from Foster after 37 overs, with the score on 227. This gave Park as much time as possible to bowl the hosts out, with variable weather conditions forecast. Safi finishing 79 not out from just 52 balls (5 fours, 6 sixes).

Newton openers Walkden and Nathan Hughes got the better of the early exchanges striking three boundaries apiece, but Safi soon thwarted the home side once again, as he picked up the key wicket of Walkden for 20, Rowland taking the catch.

Hughes continued to try and take the game to Park, but his stay at the crease was soon ended by Alex Baker for 33, as Jon Crofton took his first catch of the day at short-leg. The 1s were soon firmly on top as Safi and Baker picked up another wicket each, in successive overs, including that of Chambers for 2. The score now 69 for 4.

Safi continued to torment Newton, as Patrick Connolly edged behind to Hird for 7, to give Park their fifth wicket. Mike Walkden tried to relive some pressure as he struck two sixes off Safi and Foster, but Patel fell to Foster at the other end, to leave Newton reeling at 109 for 6. Walkden continued to be aggressive, but another catch from Crofton off Safi, led to his undoing for 24.

Ian Walkden then couldn’t believe it as he edged Baker behind to Hird for 1, with Park sensing victory. The very next over, Safi completed his five-wicket haul by cleaning up Sartaj, to leave Newton in deep trouble at 133 for 9, with still thirteen overs left in the day.

Zac Donohue and Yates temporarily frustrated Park for five overs, before Crofton’s sharp reactions once again under the helmet, gave Baker his fourth wicket and Park all 25 points. It was another superb all-round team performance by Park as Safi, Foster and Barnes led from the front with the bat, before Safi (17 overs, 6 maidens, 5 wickets for 32 runs) and Baker (15.5 overs, 2 maidens, 4 wickets for 4 wickets for 46 runs) delivered once again, following Foster’s smart declaration. The win takes the 1s into seventh, further away from the danger zone, as they face New Brighton next weekend at Park Drive.

The league game forms part of a triple-header for the 1s, as they travel to St. Helens in the quarter-final of the Liverpool Echo T20 Knockout, before hosting Chester Boughton Hall in the rearranged, quarter-final Cheshire Cup clash.

A career best 94 not out from Rob Stirrup helped lead Birkenhead Park 2nd XI to a five-wicket win against Newton-le-Willows 2nd XI on Saturday, to keep Park firmly in the title race.

Newton won the toss and put Park, led by stand-in skipper Jack Dixon, into the field, as both teams were after maximum points to help their causes at either end of the table.

Following the early wicket of Ian Lyon, and tight bowling from Archie Dicken and Bailey Jones, Newton skipper Liam Jenkins and Alex Fitzgerald began to frustrate Park, as they cautiously went about their innings, with the ball seaming around.

The pair put on 63 for the second wicket, before Louie Evans intervened, as Fitzgerald found Bailey at extra-cover for 26. This started a steady stream of wickets for Park, as Charlie Jones clean bowled Kieran Humphreys just three overs later, to leave Newton 96 for 3.

Jenkins carried on his way and reached a hard fought fifty, as they needed to begin to push on the scoring to set up a declaration. However, this bought Jenkins down fall, as he fell to Evans for 51 (100 balls, 9 fours). The score now 98 for 4.

Park then firmly took control of the contest, as a double wicket maiden from Charlie gave him his third wicket and left Newton 111 for 6. John Thisthlethwaite and Euan Ashcroft knew they needed to up the rate for their side in order to post something defendable.

They managed to score a much needed 66 runs, with Thistlethwaite reaching a well earnt half-century of his own, to take Newton up to 177 for 6 at tea. Knowing time in the game was running out, skipper Jenkins called time on his side’s innings, setting up an exciting chase for Park to win the game. Charlie and Louie finished the pick of the bowlers with figures of 11 overs, 3 wickets for 30 runs and 18 overs, 2 wickets for 57 runs, respectively.

Despite the early loss of Jack Lambert, skipper Dixon and Stirrup got Park well on their way, as they both timed the ball sweetly, finding the boundary regularly. A partnership of 75 for the second wicket left Park well placed with the score on 84. However, Dixon then found Thistlethwaite on the cow-corner boundary, for an eye-catching 42.

Charlie combined well with Stirrup, as a further 37 runs were added for the third wicket, with Stirrup bringing up an important fifty in the process. Ashcroft then picked up two quick wickets for Newton, including Charlie for 14, as the game was still in the balance, with the score 124 for 4.

However, Stirrup continued to hit boundaries to all parts of the ground, as he began to dominate the scoring and take Park up to the 178 runs needed for victory. The wicket of Bailey set Park back at 142 for 5, but Stirrup’s elegant stroke play settled any nerves for the 2s, as they edged closer to the win.

Dale Taylor supported Stirrup well, as the pair added the 36 runs needed to get Park over the line and a valuable 23 points in the title race. Taylor bringing up the win with his third boundary in a calm 15 not out. However, Stirrup stole the show with a match winning 94 not out (92 balls, 13 fours), as the 2s chased down the target inside 36 overs. Credit also to Dixon, who captained excellently in the absence of Danny Jordan.

The victory leaves Park fourth, just 27 points behind leaders Lytham, having played a game less. Coincidentally, next up is a trip to Lytham this Saturday in a big top of the table clash.

The 3rd XI unfortunately fell to a 49-run defeat at the hands of local rivals Wallasey on Saturday. Wallasey posted 183 for 5 declared from 40 overs, at the Bebington Oval, before the 3s succumbed to 134 all out. Dom Hogarth top scoring for Park with 34. The defeat leaves Park in fourth, as they host Merseyside Cricket and Cultural Club this weekend.

The 4s also fell to a defeat, this time at the hands of runaway league leaders, Liverpool Superkings, on Saturday at Cannon Hill. The visitors posted a commanding 232 for 7 declared off 36 overs, despite two wickets apiece for Jimmy Riley and Martin Evans. In reply, Park fell to 87 all out, with Evans top scoring with 20. The 4s lie in ninth place of the 3rd XI First Division table, with a trip to Northop Hall this weekend.

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