Pelsall pass their toughest title test
Pelsall skipper Danny Pennell saluted his troops after they sealed their third title in six years.
Pennell’s men were confirmed champions of inaugural South Staffs County League on Saturday and will now battle it out for a place in the Birmingham League in the new play-off format alongside Walmley, Astwood Bank and Wem.
And Pennell, who has led the side in all three of those title wins believes this summer’s success has been the hardest.
“The title win in 2014 was really sweet because we had been in the Staffs Clubs for a few years and had finished second two years running,” said Pennell. “But this title was probably the toughest to win given the standard of the league this year.
“There has been some tough cricket and I’m delighted that we have come out on top.
“We are an organised team and I would say that’s probably the case with all the sides in the top four. Everyone knows their job and what is expected of them and we don’t chop and change things around.
“We have used 14 players all season and two of those have played just one game each. Our availability has been good all season and that’s another huge factor. The lads really committed themselves to the whole season and credit to them for that.
“They are also a resilient bunch and we probably managed to get a bit of luck at the right times. But you need that to win a league.”
Pennell admitted their was a strange ending to Saturday’s game against Brewood – which they lost by 40 runs.
Having received news that Beacon, who were the only side who could catch them, had lost at C&R Hawks, the Pelsall batters saw their attempts to go out in blaze of glory backfire as they lost their last six wickets for nine runs on their way to being bowled out for 189 – Will Marsh wreaking havoc as he produced a devastating spell of 7-34.
“Saturday was probably our worst performance of the season, but it was all about getting over the line and we did that,” added Pennell.
“It was a tough game and Brewood played very well. But once we had found out that Beacon had lost, I told the lads to go out and enjoy themselves.
“They had a bit of a whack to try to get the game done as quickly as possible because we just wanted to start the celebrations. It didn’t work out, but it didn’t really matter.”
Pelsall begin their play-off quest on Saturday with a home clash against Worcestershire League winners Astwood Bank.
They then travel to Warwickshire outfit Walmley on Sunday before facing Shropshire champions Wem at Walsall the following Saturday.
Beacon’s bid for final day glory came unstuck against a C&R Hawks side playing their final fixture following the news that the club is disbanding.
Chasing the 24 points needed to have any hope of catching Pelsall, last year’s champions Beacon batted first and recovered from 67-6 to post 183 thanks mainly to 43 from all-rounder Jason Swan. Awais Khurshid picked up 3-33 with the ball for the home side.
Valeed Butt (41) and Saqib Akbar (51) took Hawks to 105-2 in reply and despite a slight mid-innings wobble they got home by two wickets inside 34 overs. Swan capped a fine game by claiming 4-58 while Dan Vernon’s 3-72 ensured he finished as the Premier Division’s leading wicket-taker with 51 victims.
Milford Hall and Penkridge cashed in on Beacon’s final day defeat to claim second and third spots respectively in the standings.
Run-machine Ibbadat Thaman ended his superb summer with another high-quality century.
The league’s leading run-scorer took his tally to 1,248 as stroked his way to 130 – his fifth ton of the season – and Sahal Malvernkar made 109 as Milford piled up 290-6d against Hammerwich.
Hammerwich the tumbled to 127 all out in reply with Ejaz Nawaz (4-15) and Chris Dean (4-60) the chief destroyers.
Penkridge signed off with a 71-run success against relegated Cannock.
Half-centuries from Mohammed Ishtiaq and Laeq Chishti, plus 38 from Ishaq Mohammed saw Penkridge to 221-9 from their 50 overs.
Attiq Chishti then picked up 4-32 as Cannock fell for 150. Royeth Hussain top scored with 31.
Fordhouses enjoyed a comfortable 119-run success against visiting Wombourne in their final outing of the summer.
Talented teenager Vikai Dass made 88, skipper Chris Guest 48 and ex-Wombourne man Niall Cooper 41 as Fordhouses posted 275-9. Dave Hemming was the pick of the Wombourne attack with 5-51.
The visitors never looked like pulling off a successful run-chase as they lost half their side with 61 on the board. Tom Elwell offered some resistance with 47 but they were eventually bowled out for 156.
Lichfield were the day’s other winners.
Will Davies made 44 and Tom Swift, Joe Seager and Adam Braddock all chipped in with 30s as they chased down Whittington’s 139-6 for the loss of three wickets. James Wilkinson took 4-49 for Lichfield.