On a key day for those teams in the bottom half of the Cheshire County Cricket League Premier Division, Bramhall were invited to bat first by visitors Grappenhall – only 5 points ahead of them in 8th place at the start of play.
On a typical Church Lane wicket, offering a hint of seam movement early on for the visiting bowlers, the Beavers got off to a decent start with the Wilde-West opening partnership looking solid. Ashley West, in particular, punished any short bowling and made full use of an inviting boundary. Adam Wilde became the first wicket to fall, caught for 20 with the score on 63 from 14 overs, but West continued to punish any bad bowling – before he was eventually trapped LBW for a well-made 51 from 53 balls.
Bramhall continued to attack Gappers’ bowling with skipper Nick Cantello and Danny Lamb scoring freely. The pair had added 71, before Lamb was unluckily caught – departing with the score on 147-3 at a time that the Beavers were keen to accelerate to set a total. Lamb’s dismissal brought to the dangerous Iftikhar Naseer to the crease. The remaining overs of the innings proved to be memorable for everyone at Church Lane, as Naseer – in particular – took the attack to the visitors. Thirteen sixes later, Naseer had passed his first league century for Bramhall in just 45 balls and ended on a sparkling 118 not out from just 58 balls. Cantello was by no means left too far behind, hitting a breezy 74* off 62 balls, and he was confident enough in his side to declare the innings closed at 321-3 from 52 overs – meaning the unbroken 4th wicket stand was worth 174.
Knowing that Grappenhall needed to maximise their match points haul played into Bramhall’s hands, but the visitors could not be taken lightly given several successful high scoring run chases this season.
After the break, Grappenhall got off to an excellent start with opener James McCoy tucking into some errant Bramhall bowling. However, the Beavers felt that it would only be a matter of time before the wickets started to tumble. Cantello shuffled around his bowlers and the introduction of Simon Wilkinson and Luke Littlewood brought about the swift demise of four Grappenhall batsmen for just 15 runs from a promising opening stand worth 84 runs.
However, with Grappenhall on 99-4, Bramhall knew that regular wickets were required from thereon in to ensure victory. The Beavers continued to chip away and were ecstatic to see the final Grappenhall wicket fall out with the score on 196, with 5 overs remaining.
Nine of the wickets were shared between Naseer (3-21), Wilkinson (3-52) and Littlewood (3-14) in a strong team display. Naseer was unsurprisingly named as Man of the Match, and Bramhall now sit 33 points clear of the relegation zone with two games to go. Bramhall travel to mid-table Didsbury next Saturday.