Beefy Birch blasts Sandiacre to top of table

Kabeer Imtiaz on his way to a return of four wickets in Sandiacre's win over Marehay.
Kabeer Imtiaz on his way to a return of four wickets in Sandiacre's win over Marehay.
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A characteristically ferocious assault by Dan Birch propelled Sandiacre Town to a landslide win and top spot in the Derbyshire County League’s Premier Division.

With previous leaders Spondon not in action, Sandiacre knew they had a golden opportunity at home to relegation-threatened strugglers Marehay.

And they were in no mood to waste it as they bowled the visitors out for 197 and then raced to their target on the back of an unbeaten 87 from the 36-year-old Birch.

The beefy ex-Derbyshire batsman smashed six sixes and six fours in his 68-ball knock and bossed an unbroken third-wicket stand of 63 with Robert Cook (15no) that eased Sandiacre home in the 40th over.

Earlier openers Scott McNeill (40, six fours) and James Chapman (54, one six and seven fours) had laid a solid platform for the run-chase, putting on 88 for the first wicket. Chapman also shared 50 with Birch.

Marehay’s innings never really got off the ground after both openers had fallen cheaply. Ben McGonigal tried hard to inject impetus with 30 (five fours), but they still slid to 84-6, and they only got anywhere near 200 because of admirable defiance from number six Stephen Lee, who hammered 75, including six sixes and four fours.

Lee put on 98 for the seventh wicket with skipper James Kyte (36, one six and four fours) before both fell to returning new-ball bowler Kabeer Imtiaz, who was the pick of the home attack with figures of 4-44 from 9.2 overs. Cook took 2-10 from nine overs and Matthew Newbold 2-19 from seven.