BIRKENHEAD PARK’S first XI were in superb form on Saturday afternoon securing a comprehensive victory by nine wickets over visiting Skelmersdale.
It was something of a successful revenge mission for Park having fallen to the West Lancashire outfit by four wickets when the sides locked horns back in May.
Skelmersdale had designs on putting the hosts into bat on Saturday, but unfortunately for them they lost the call of the coin flip and instead found themselves batting first on a damp track at Birkenhead Park.
The visitors made a reasonable start in the encounter, reaching 26 before the fall of the first wicket, when Jonas Smith gifted a straight catch to Haroon Khan for 17.
He was followed soon after by fellow-opener Kyle Till, who was bowled by the dangerous Chris Stenhouse having scored 11.
Sunny Gandhi came in to join skipper Ben Maddocks hoping to consolidate, but with the Skelmersdale score on 43 the third wicket fell.
Gandhi, having scored five runs, was caught by David Smith, again off the bowling of Stenhouse.
Maddocks, after a shaky start, was starting to play his shots and when joined by Barry Leadbetter the pair began to take control of the Birkenhead bowling.
With the umpires signalling that drinks were due to be taken, and Skelmersdale looking comfortable on 90 for three, there was no sign of the collapse that was to come.
On the first ball after the drinks break, Leadbetter was bowled for 21 runs, by first-change bowler Matthew Howard.
In the next over, Luke Manley was given out lbw to Stenhouse, without scoring.
In the same over, Stenhouse claimed the wicket of Louis Sweeney who also had failed to score.
How the situation had changed for Skelmersdale, and it was to get worse as the in-form Howard caused even more havoc.
Skelmersdale had only moved onto 94 when the seventh wicket fell, that of Matthew Wright, bowled by Howard for a single.
Skelmersdale sent in the experienced Andy Donnelly hoping that he could give some support to his skipper, who was rapidly running out of batting partners.
Skelmersdale were nearing their first batting point, when Maddocks was deceived and bowled by Howard for 31.
It was not the end of Howard’s stint, as in his next over he trapped Donnelly lbw for three, leaving Skelmersdale on 100 for nine.
Skelmersdale had lost six wickets for just 10 runs, in an amazingly short spell.
The visitors’ innings closed when the stubborn Matthew Fenney was bowled by Howard, having scored 11.
At the close Dave Farrell was ‘not out’ on one, with Skelmersdale all out for 111 in the 42nd over.
Birkenhead were delighted with their bowlers. Skipper Stenhouse bowled though the Skelmersdale innings, finishing with figures of five wickets for 59 runs from his 21 overs. However, the performance of the innings came from Matthew Howard, who bowled just 8.1 overs, taking five wickets for just eight runs.
The Skelmersdale score hardly looked enough to defend against a confident Birkenhead Park.
Skelmersdale opened the bowling with Jonas Smith and Louis Sweeney and the pair bowled reasonably tight without causing the Birkenhead batsmen too many problems.
Skelmersdale took their first wicket in the 15th over, when Ben Maddocks claimed an lbw decision that resulted in Khalid Wahbi being given out for 17.
Opener Ian Cooper (53), and Haroon (35) then saw Birkenhead home without further loss, resulting in an easy nine-wicket win and 20 points added to their promotion chase in the Liverpool Cricket Competition’s Second Division.