GRAHAM WILLIAMSON TROPHY
Walsall and Old Hill will have to meet again at Haden Hill next Sunday after rain ruined yesterday's Graham Williamson Trophy final at Gorway between the hosts and the holders.
But, after losing the choice of the venue on the toss of a coin, Walsall were, perhaps crucially, last night forced to surrender home advantage. That could turn the contest Old Hill's way, given the fact that they had reached the GWT final on the back of three successive home wins at Haden Hill.
Old Hill might be struggling in the Birmingham Midshires League and in danger of relegation, but they looked like winning yesterday's 40-over contest too, until the weather intervened.
Walsall, who had blown the title race open the previous day by beating leaders West Bromwich Dartmouth, were clearly finding it hard work to raise their game against local Black Country rivals for the second day running.
After starting half-an-hour late, three wickets from Old Hill pro Riaz Sheikh helped reduce Walsall to 114 for eight off 34 overs.
Openers Paul Baker and Richard Mills went in successive overs, with the score on 18 before a third-wicket stand of 44 between Nathan Round and former Staffordshire batsman Graeme Archer started to turn things round.
But visiting skipper Attiq Ur Rehmann trapped Archer leg before for 21. And then, although Round put on a further 30 for the fourth wicket with hard-hitting Namibian Gerrie Snyman, they were part of a disastrous run of three wickets for no runs in successive overs.
Sheikh bagged Round, playing against one of his former clubs, for 29. Then Snyman followed for 22, the first of two victims for Daud Islam. And, when Sheikh removed Mark Green too, they had slumped from 92 for three to 92 for six.
Sheikh also got rid of Andy Hawkins and Islam added another scalp to leave the home side struggling at 102 for eight. But, with just six overs remaining of their innings and looking up against it, the rain saved Walsall.