Stuart Phazey pleased with Milford’s opening efforts
Skipper Stuart Phazey has declared himself happy with Milford Hall’s start to the South Staffs County League Premier Division season, writes Nick Elwell.
A 68-run success over Cannock on Saturday left unbeaten Milford sitting third in the early standings and with Phazey encouraged by what he has seen from his charges.
Milford opted to blood a number of youngsters last year in preparation for their return to the feeder league and Phazey is hoping the experience they gained will stand his side in good stead for the battles ahead.
“I’m really happy with the way we have started the season,” he said. “It will take four to six weeks to see how things are going to shape up but we are sitting in third 15 points behind leaders Wombourne and we have had a game abandoned.
“We used last season to develop some of our younger players because we knew we would be going down due to the league reshuffle.
“Those players have picked up more experience as a result and they are now ready to fight and scrap when they need to. It’s been an encouraging start.”
Ibbadat Thaman played the standout innings of the day as Milford grafted their way to 150-8 from 50 overs before dismissing Cannock for 82 in reply.
“It turned out to be a very good toss to lose because I would have bowled first and things may have turned out differently,” said Phazey. “Our openers dug in, at one point were 20-odd off 20 overs but we hadn’t lost a wicket and that gave us a platform to build from.
“Ibby then batted really well. He played a mature innings and helped us push on. Once we had got to 140 I was confident we had enough bowling to defend that total on that wicket. I then set the bowlers the objective of hitting areas, building pressure and not trying to force things. I wanted us to be consistent and persistent.
“They got to 60-odd for two but then we took four wickets in the space of four overs and that completely changed the game.”
Pelsall captain Dan Pennell heaped praised on both bowling attacks after his side emerged triumphant from a low-scoring clash with Beacon.
After being put in to bat, Pelsall were rolled over for 93, of which Johan Maritz contributed 37, by the visitors with Matt Cartwright producing a superb spell that saw him pick up 5-11 off 10 overs.
But Pelsall hit back in stunning fashion, blowing away Beacon’s top order to reduce them to 7-5 before finally dismissing them for 65.
Todd Henderson led the victory charge with 4-12 while Jonathan Moore took 3-19.
And while the conditions favoured the bowlers, Pennell was impressed by the skill sets on show.
“I thought it was a decent enough wicket, it was more a case of both sides bowling really well,” he said.
“Matt Cartwright bowled a really good spell for them. He put the ball in good areas and we didn’t have an answer, we kept nicking off.
“I thought 160 would be a good score so I was disappointed at the break. But we started brilliantly with the ball. Todd and Jon were exceptional and we had them 7-5.
“From there you are hoping someone doesn’t chance their arm and come off. With a small total to defend it can only take someone scoring a quick 40 to take the game away from you.
“But Ryan Brown bowled with great control and picked up a couple of big wickets and it was nice to get over the line.”
Next up for Pelsall is a trip to pre-season title favourites C&R Hawks on Saturday.
“We face C&R Hawks on Saturday and without a doubt that will be our toughest test so far,” admitted Pennell.
“They have kept their players from last season and they are a Birmingham League side. But we are looking forward to it and it will be good to pit our wits against them and see where we are at.”
Former England one-day international and Worcestershire man Kabir Ali starred with the ball as C&R Hawks record their third win in four outings.
Ali picked up 5-61 from 13.5 overs to help dismiss Penkridge for 133 in reply to Hawks’ total of 173. Joe Oakley made 35 and Attiq Chishti 32. Nadeem Akram (3-36) provided support with the ball for Ali.
Earlier, Hawks’ skipper Mubeen Rashid (39) had top scored for his side while Lee Evans made 35. Mohammed Ishtiaq (3-37) was the pick of the Penkridge attack.
Hammerwich’s Patrick Knott was the day’s top performer with the bat.
Knott stroked his way to 128, sharing an opening stand of 130 with Ben Traat (47) as Hammwerwich made 246-5 against Whittington. Shazad Malik took 3-51.
In a rain-affected clash, Whittington replied with 149-5 from 30 overs, Sajid Nazir making 42 and Abid Hassan 31 not out, as Hammerwich claimed the winning draw.