It was a weekend of highs and lows on the eighth Saturday of action in the 2003 North Staffs and South Cheshire League Premier A season. CHRIS TRAVERS reports…
BARLASTON’S early-season struggles continued after they were soundly beaten by Leek in their Premier A meeting.
The division’s bottom side lost by a mammoth 195 runs as their batting troubles showed no signs of abating.
They have yet to bat for a full 60 overs or set a decent target – which has caused surprise in their camp.
Club secretary-cum-middle-order man Phil Taylor, who topped 800 runs himself in the promotion side of 2001, said: “We bat all down the order and everyone has scored a hundred at some level, but we are not firing on all guns. I never thought that would happen.”
Barlaston, in fairness, anticipated a tough season. The loss of professional Mohammed Hussain, who topped the League bowling averages with 75 wickets and scored 500 runs, along with batsman Khalid Malik and bowler Denton Brock, were bound to leave gaps.
All-rounder Ali Haider arrived from the Allied Bank of Pakistan with a good pedigree and Barlaston have picked up Rashid Shafayat, the brother of Nottinghamshire batsman Bilal.
Taylor said: “Rashid is highly thought of and has done his bit by taking his wickets. Ali has struggled on wet wickets, but we have seen a glimpse of him in the Talbot Cup.”
For all their woes of no wins, Taylor reports a fine team spirit.
He said: “We knew it would be difficult, but one win would lift us and we all have to pitch in.
“Our aim last year on gaining promotion was to survive and it is the same this year. With the opening of our new two-storey pavilion we have premier facilities so we need premier cricket. It is tough cricket but we love it.”
Barlaston had the misfortune last Saturday to run into a whirlwind in the form of Leek’s former professional Ottis Gibson, who was standing in for the injured Albie Morkel.
Gibson opened his account with a six and hit 82 off 47 balls as Leek declared on 252-5. Gibson then took 4-32 as Barlaston were bowled out for 57.
Tim Tweats (64) and David Fairbanks (61) both scored half-centuries for the Moorlanders, who had earlier seen Dave Cartledge and Dave Ratcliffe dismissed for ducks.
Mick Coxon’s 3-7 then helped Gibson to keep Barlaston waiting for their first success of the season.
Taylor said: “We knew we would have a day like we had at Leek. Ottis’ batting was like a firework display and he ruined a good game!”
Porthill Park climbed off the bottom with an impressive victory at Checkley.
Set 227 to win, they wrapped up a seven-wicket triumph as Jamie Jervis (97no) and Imran Farhat (90) put on 121 for the second wicket.
Farhat had taken 5-82 in the formative stages of the day after Nick Hunt (55) and John Pickles (38) had led Checkley to 226-7.
Defending champions Norton in Hales saw Imran Tahir in inspired form as they swept past the challenge of Betley.
Tahir’s leg spin reaped fine figures of 6-33 – and Andy Kenvyn chipped in with 3-37 – as visitors Betley were rolled for 101.
Tahir then blasted 58 not out off just 52 balls to secure a nine-wicket win. John Caulkin also played his part with 37.
Moddershall are in second place following their victory at Little Stoke.
Little Stoke were bowled out for 156, despite South African Justin Kemp top-scoring with 78. West Indian paceman Adam Sanford helped himself to 3-43.
The Modd men were always in control of their chase as Iain Carr (72no) and Scott Oliver (32) led them to their target, four wickets down.
Longton are lurking in the wings after a 19-run home victory over Meir Heath.
Skipper Richard Harvey compiled 40 as Longton posted 152-9. Stefan Read took 5-85.
Neil Crump’s 55 gave Meir Heath hope of success, but pace ace Andrew Tweedie (5-60) ensured that the visitors’ innings was wrapped up for 133.
Audley’s unbeaten record is intact following a comfortable triumph at Caverswall.
TP Singh’s 91 was backed up by Sean Price’s 41 and 37 from Ollie Sadler as Audley amassed 242-7. Chris Baranowski claimed 4-82.
Stefan Barker and Baranowski made 47 and 37 respectively in reply, but Caverswall were dismissed for 153.
Gary Latham (4-29) and Price (3-40) did the bulk of the damage.