Ice man Berg keep his cool
SATURDAY S clash between Stevenage and Potters Bar was dominated by two outstanding all-round performances from high quality cricketers in Stevenage s Gareth Berg and Bar s K Weeraratne. But it ended up in favour of Potters Bar whose victory maintained th
SATURDAY'S clash between Stevenage and Potters Bar was dominated by two outstanding all-round performances from high quality cricketers in Stevenage's Gareth Berg and Bar's K Weeraratne.
But it ended up in favour of Potters Bar whose victory maintained their position at the top of the Home Counties Premier League.
Stevenage lost the toss and was asked to field on a day that saw temperatures hit the 30s, but the team refused to wilt in the heat.
They put in one of their best fielding performances of the season clinging on to a range of fine catches, including four behind the stumps to Dave Carr, two outstanding slip catches from Nas Ahmed, a spiralling skier taken safely by Ashley Bayes and a reflex caught and bowled from Syed Ali Kazmi, that probably saved the umpire a trip to A&E.
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The Bar innings got off to a slow start as Berg extracted excessive bounce from a good length and bowled with considerable pace.
He was rewarded with the first wicket inducing an edge from the opener who had been struck a nasty blow in the ribs in the over previous.
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Tanweer Sikander bowled with good control at the other end and benefited from the softening up job being done by Berg in picking up 3-32 from his 13 overs.
With Bar in trouble at 34-4 from 19 overs, they were in need of a big partnership and this was provided by former Sri Lankan one-day international all-rounder Weeraratne. Weeraratne, who boasts the fastest first class 50 in world cricket, struck some big blows in his 76 and was well supported in a 114 run partnership by Bar's captain Cooper, who made 36.
It was Kazmi (15.2-4-42-3) who removed both batters, pulling off an amazing caught and bowled to get rid of Weeraratne who apart from being troubled by Berg had looked immovable.
The rest of the batting capitulated largely due to the return of Berg who ran through the tail returning figures of 18-8-34-4, which left Stevenage 178 runs to win.
The Stevenage innings suffered an early setback, with the sharp swing bowling of Weeraratne claiming three quick wickets to leave the total on 14-3, before a partnership between Ali Kazmi (23) and Berg seemed to have set things back on course.
However, the loss of Ali Kazmi, who fell to the best catch of a match that was littered with exceptional fielding, probably turned out to be the deciding factor of the game, because through a combination of unfortunate luck and further good fielding none of Stevenage's batsmen made it into double figures in their support of Berg.
A 50 run partnership between Berg and Bayes took the total to 107-6 and ensured that a Stevenage victory remained a possibility right to the last, but with the gritty Bayes dismissed with the score on 107, Berg was left with too much to do with too few batsmen left.
Nevertheless he continued to bat positively and with great control and shot selection and had raced to 97 from 103 balls faced before the last man was bowled to give Potters Bar victory by just 14 runs.