Birkenhead Park 1st XI were held to a draw by Rainhill on Saturday in a back-and-forth contest at Park Drive.
Park were put in the field by Rainhill skipper Ben Edmundson but quickly gained control of the game as Alex Harris had Edmundson caught behind by Steve Hird for 5.
Alex Baker then got into the action by claiming the prized wicket of Tyler McGladerry for 0 in extraordinary circumstances. The left-hander drilled a full ball back towards the six-foot, eight inches tall fast bowler who managed to palm the ball into the grateful hands of Harris, leaving Rainhill 5 for 2.
Park carried on their early momentum as Harris picked up the wicket of Robert Mckeown for 7, this time with Baker taking the catch.
The introduction of Ashraf Nawab into the attack bought the 1s more joy as he cleaned up David Atkinson for 9 with Rainhill now reeling at 35 for 4.
Rainhill’s overseas pro Imliwati Lemtur couldn’t stop the Park bowlers as Baker picked up his second wicket of the day as the Indian all-rounder found Sam Beadsworth for 10. Paul Ford was the next man to depart soon after as he found Nawab off his own bowling for 2. Rainhill 53 for 6.
Sam Kershaw had seen wickets tumble at the other end as he attempted to stabilise the innings for Rainhill, but even he rode his luck, surviving a couple of dropped chances.
Both Daniel and Peter Kelly looked to support Kershaw, but both fell to Nawab and Baker respectively for 12, giving the Park pair their third wickets, as the hosts looked to finish Rainhill off with the score at 96 for 8.
However, Kershaw, now joined by Simon Brown, began to open his shoulders, and started to score more freely as he bought up a well-compiled half-century. Brown continued to frustrate the Park bowlers, as he tied up the other end.
This gave Kershaw the support he needed as the pair managed to put on 82 for the ninth wicket, which saw Rainhill bat past tea and back into the contest that Park had controlled for most of the afternoon.
Kershaw eventually fell for a brilliant 93 (131 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes), in an attempt to push his team towards a declaration, as he holed out to Mark Rowland off the bowling of Bailey Jones
That wicket did bring the declaration from Edmundson with Brown ending 22 not out as Rainhill finished on 178 for 9.
Rowland and Mike Barnes then began Park’s run chase, with the former getting his side off to a flier, punishing Jack Lowrie’s opening over for 16, which included a glorious six over extra cover.
Daniel Kelly, who replaced Lowrie in the eighth over, managed to end Rowland’s early onslaught as he mistimed a pull shot to McGladdery for 22, leaving the score at 37-1.
Barnes, now joined by Birkenhead Park captain Tom Foster, began to find his stride, as the pair added 30 for the second wicket, before Foster was very controversially adjudged to be LBW off the bowling of Daniel Kelly for 9. Peter Kelly then trapped Harris in front for 1 to leave Park at 72 for 3.
Barnes and Danny Jordan took the score past 100 as the game moved into the last hour, with all three results still a possibility. Barnes then fell two runs short of what would’ve been a well-deserved half-century, as he was stumped by Brown off the bowling of Lemtur for 48.
This began a dangerous spell for Park, as the required run rate for victory began to rise. Hird gave the impressive Daniel Kelly a third wicket before Jordan succumbed to Lemtur for 17, leaving the game finely poised, with Park 112 for 6 and ten overs left in the day.
Lemtur then ran out Beadsworth and dismissed Khalid Wahbi in quick succession as Rainhill sensed what seemed an unlikely victory earlier on in the day as Park were now 131 for 8.
However, Jones and Baker safely negotiated the remaining overs to give both sides a draw and six points. The result leaves both sides in the relegation zone, but wins in the coming weeks could see the teams rise to the middle of the table.
Rain got the better of Birkenhead Park’s first round Ray Digman cup match against Southport and Birkdale on Sunday, with a new date to be confirmed.
Next for the for the 1s is the second round of the Liverpool Echo T20 Knockout against Neston, before New Brighton away in the league next Saturday.
Meanwhile, the 2nd XI came agonisingly short in a thriller against Ormskirk 2nd XI last Saturday, losing by just one wicket. Jon Crofton had top scored with 48 not out for the 2s as they posted 180 for 5 declared from 45 overs. Ormskirk managed to reach the target having lost nine wickets. Chris Foran was the pick of the bowlers for Park with figures of 4 for 66 from 14 overs. There were also three wickets for David Evans and two for Louie Evans. The result leaves Park fifth in the table as they host Lytham 2nd XI this Saturday. The 2s also host New Brighton in the first round of the T20 Chrysalis Cup on Thursday.
The 3rd XI were beaten by Northern 3rd XI on Saturday by eight wickets. Alomgir Shah top scored with 31 for Park as they posted 124 all out. Northern chased the runs down only losing two wickets. The result leaves the 3s fifth in the table as the travel to Ormskirk 3rd XI this weekend.
The 4th XI ran out comfortable winners against Sefton Park 4th XI last weekend. Four wickets from Jimmy Riley and two each for Ben Cavanagh and Lewis Foran saw Sefton bowled out for 131. An unbeaten 49 from Foran, playing in just his fifth senior match, and 32 from Martin Evans saw the 4s win by seven wickets and cap off an impressive team performance. This takes the 4s up to seventh in the 3rd XI First Division table as they’ll look to build on last Saturday’s win with another solid performance against New Brighton 4th XI at Cannon Hill this weekend.