It was an eventful weekend for Birkenhead Park Cricket Club as the 1s ended their weekend on a high to set up a mouth-watering tie with Chester Boughton Hall, in the Cheshire Cup quarter-final.
Meanwhile, 129 from Matty Langford saw the 2s make ground on their title rivals, as they beat Colwyn Bay.
The 1st XI got off to a disappointing start on Saturday as they were handed a seven-wicket defeat by Leigh. Park were bowled out for just 61 at Park Drive before Leigh knocked off the runs for the loss of three wickets. The defeat saw the 1s drop to bottom of the table, with Wigan making the trip to Birkenhead next weekend.
However, their fortunes changed on Sunday, as the 1s ran out three-wicket winners against Cheadle Cricket Club, in the last 16 of the Cheshire Cup.
Cheadle skipper Josh Dooler won the toss on a used wicket and elected to bat first, hoping to get best use out of the deteriorating track. The visitors were soon on the back foot as Ahmad Safi Abdullah ripped through the Cheadle top order, turning the ball square, leaving the score at 23 for 3.
Liam Fitzpatrick and Will Holmes provided some temporary respite, putting on 33 for the fifth wicket, but Safi soon had his fourth, as Fitzpatrick swept to debutant Dom Hogarth, who took a smart low catch in the deep, on the leg-side.
Khalid Wahbi didn’t take long to get into the action, as his off-spin trapped Daniel Osborne plum LBW for 4, the score now 72 for 5. The same mode of dismissal handed Safi a fine five-wicket haul, as he dismissed George Dickinson for 1.
Wahbi then picked up the key wicket of Holmes, as he beat the left-hander’s defences for 23. Four overs later, Wahbi had a third, as a spectacular one-handed diving catch from Mark Rowland saw Cheadle fall to 95 for 8.
More well controlled bowling from Wahbi and Louie Evans saw them take a wicket apiece to wrap up the Cheadle innings for 108, putting Park in the driving seat. Safi (8 overs, 5 wickets for 35 runs) and Wahbi (8 overs, 4 wickets for 18 runs) were the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, with Rowland standing out in the field with four catches.
Safi got Park off to a bright start in reply, striking 2 fours and 2 sixes on his way to a quick-fire 21 off 13 balls. However, two quick wickets from Cheadle opener Ben Broadhurst, left the score at 23 for 2. The wicket, which continued to spin sharply, gave the visitors some hope, with three wickets falling without the score moving, leaving Park in trouble at 47 for 5.
However, captain Tom Foster and Steve Hird steadied the ship for the 1s, battling away against Cheadle’s spinners, whilst finding gaps in the field. The pair put on a vital 51 for the sixth wicket and took Park just ten runs away from their victory target, before Hird was eventually dismissed for a well-crafted 29.
Another boundary from Foster and four leg byes took him to 25 not out and his side to victory in a low scoring contest. The win sees Park move to the Cheshire Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2013, where they will host Chester in what will be a thrilling contest at Park Drive.
Birkenhead Park CC 2nd XI recorded a commanding seven-wicket win over Colwyn Bay on Saturday, following a brilliant 129 from Matty Langford, which saw the 2s chase 210 in just 40 overs.
Colwyn Bay won the toss and elected to bat first on what looked a flat wicket at Rhos-on-Sea. The hosts scored quickly early in the innings, on what was a fast-scoring ground. Shaun Davies was the first man to go, with the score on 40, as David Nevin bowled him round his legs for 25.
The introduction of spinners Louie Evans and skipper Danny Jordan into the attack began to stem the flow of runs and Evans dismissed Matt Russell for 17 in his first over, the score 79-2.
The pair continued to apply the squeeze as Park rattled through their overs, taking regular wickets to not let ‘The Bay’ get out of sight. Jordan picked up key wickets of Harry Spillane for 42 and Colwyn captain Tom Roberts for 39.
It was a brilliant spell of bowling from the spin duo, that managed to contain the hosts to 210 for 7 from 45 overs. Jordan and Evans finished with three wickets apiece on a day that could’ve seen Colwyn Bay reach 250 plus.
The 2s were set back early in their reply as the in-form Jack Dixon was caught at slip, for 0, off the bowling of Tom Clarke. This didn’t hold back opening partner Langford, who raced to a half-century within the first ten overs, with lofted drives galore, and a pull-shot that flew 80 metres back towards the pavilion.
The score had reached 77 in just the eleventh over when Chris Parker was dismissed for 17 by James Jones. Chris Foran joined Langford at the crease and played an excellent supporting hand, as the latter continued to batter the ball to all parts of the ground.
A six into the groundsman’s back garden bought up a memorable century for Langford, who had taken full advantage of the fast-scoring nature of the ground, and alongside Foran, had completely taken the game away from Colwyn.
Foran too began to open his shoulders, as the pair took the 2s closer to victory. The partnership had reached 124, before Langford’s onslaught was eventually bought to an end for 129 (113 balls, 17 fours, 3 sixes). The score 201 for 3.
Jordan joined Foran, as the pair negotiated the remaining 10 runs to take Park to a dominant win over one of their title rivals. Foran finished on a well-made 45 not out (91 balls, 6 fours) that had anchored the chase and allowed Langford to continue with his free-flowing stroke play.
The victory takes Park up to second in the table just 22 points behind leaders Formby, who dropped points against Wallasey at the weekend. The 2s have to wait a week to return to action, as their return leg against Formby has been moved to a Sunday later in the season.
The 3rd XI also ran out comfortable, seven-wicket winners against Liverpool CC 3rd XI on Saturday. Park bowled Liverpool out for 180, with three wickets apiece for captain Tim Williams and Delwar Hossain and two for Archie Dicken. 77 for Alomgir Shah and 64 from Jack Lambert saw the 3s reach their victory target in the 32nd over. The result leaves Park in third place with Sefton Park making the trip to Cannon Hill this weekend.
The 4th XI hung on for a hard-fought draw away at Orrell Red Triangle on Saturday. Jahanghir Shah was the pick of the bowlers as Orrell amassed 181 for 4 declared in 37 overs. The 4s battled hard, as they batted out the 47 overs required to earn a draw, losing nine wickets. Mason Cockcroft top scored with 20, as he batted for over 90 balls to keep out the Orrell bowlers. The draw leaves Miles Lambert’s side in 5th place in the 3rd XI first division, as they travel to Wavertree next Saturday.