Express & Star

Hall and Hill targeting the points they need to go up

Milford Hall and Old Hill are both preparing for a huge 48 hours this weekend as they look to seal promotion to the Birmingham League.


The pair are in the driving seat of the County League play-offs after winning their opening round of matches and know one more victory from the remaining two fixtures, coupled with a decent haul of bonus points in the other, would be sufficient to secure promotion.

They first meet each other on Saturday for a showdown on neutral territory at Moseley, before Milford Hall visit Shropshire champions Wellington 24 hours later, with Old Hill going to Olton and West Warwickshire.

“It’s a huge weekend,” admitted Milford skipper Dan Betty. “If we win promotion it will be the highest level the club has ever played. It is where the club deserves to be. We will do what we can on Saturday and Sunday to get us there. The advantage of winning the first game is we know what we have to do in the remaining two matches but we don’t want a scenario where we have to rely on net run-rate. We want to win all three matches. We know Old Hill are a really good side and it will be a different test.”

Staffordshire champions Milford got their play-off campaign up and running with a 78-run win over Olton last Saturday.

A solid team batting performance, which saw no player pass 50 but four reach 40, after losing the toss and being put in meant they were able to rack up 256-6 from their 50 overs.

Spinner Aaron Afford then bowled his 10 overs from the start of the reply, finishing with figures of 4-28 as the visitors floundered early in their chase. Ejaz Nawaz then took 3-21 to mop up the tail.

“With the home game first we knew we needed to get off to a good start,” said Betty. “It was an odd game really, a tricky wicket and we got put into bat but our guys applied themselves really well. Nobody gave it away. It was a good score which we knew we could defend if we bowled at our best. We never let them settle.”

Old Hill, the Worcestershire League champions, also enjoyed a winning start with a five-wicket triumph over Wellington though skipper Bilal Hassan admitted some frustration at the margin of victory not being wider.

Aamir Manzoor and Sam Wright took three wickets each as the visitors were skittled out for just 127 but while Hassan’s 51 and 38 from opener Waqas Ahmed ensured the chase was relatively straightforward, memories of last season mean the captain hopes the loss of three late wickets – and Wellington snaring an extra bonus point as a result – does not come back to haunt them on Sunday night.

Old Hill missed out on promotion in agonising fashion on net run-rate 12 months ago despite winning two of their three play-off matches.

Hassan explained: “We should have chased it down for the loss of only two wickets but I got out, Waqas got out and we ended up losing a couple we really shouldn’t have.

“We know from last year how tight things can get. Had we got 13 or 14 more runs in the first game last year it would have got us the extra bonus point needed to get over the line at the end.

“Every wicket and every run is crucial because mathematically all four teams can win two games each and it can come down to net run rate, so losing late wickets in a chase can make a difference.

“But it’s always good to get one under the belt first up. Fingers crossed this year we can get over the line.

“We’ll take a squad of 12 over to Moseley and decide the team on the day but it will depend on what kind of wicket we are playing on.

“We’ve had a good strong squad this season and things are looking good at the moment.”