Rainhill defeat reigning champions
Rainhill 222-9 (Billy Godleman 102, Khalid Usman 27; Sumit Ruikar 7-83) Wallasey 50 (Josh Rylance 21, Matthew Keogh 7*; Khalid Usman 6-11) Rainhill (25 pts) beat Wallasey (4 pts) by 172 runs Scorecard
Rainhill emerged as convincing winners following Sunday's encounter with 2022 Premier League champions Wallasey, a victory due in no small measure to the efforts of Billy Godleman and Khalid Usman (pictured). Wallasey, a class apart last season, have struggled in 2023 but they have retained most of that squad and in Sumit Ruikar have a brilliant club professional with the ability to turn games around. A tough match was anticipated and when Wallasey put the hosts in to bat it was the indomitable Ruikar who opened the bowling, no doubt sensing the chance to repeat his exploits of 2021 when he took 8-26 to send Rainhill to an eight-wicket defeat. On a hot afternoon with the front packed with spectators the scene was set for a fascinating contest. Ruikar made an early breakthrough when Ross Higham departed for 14, but Billy Godleman held the innings together with a very well constructed 102, giving Ruikar plenty of respect. He received good support from Khalid Usman (27) and Paul Ford (25) and Rainhill were able to amass 222 runs from 55 overs for the loss of nine wickets, ensuring maximum batting points. Ruikar finished up with impressive haul of seven wickets but, unlike in 2021, it was Rainhill who felt they were in the driving seat even if they perhaps should have posted a slightly higher target.
Wallasey's reply never really got going, as a devastating opening spell from Usman saw him take three wickets as Wallasey's top order crumbled. They fell to 6 for 4, after which Josh Rylance and Ruikar briefly threatened to build a useful partnership. However, a brilliant catch from Billy Godleman off Usman's bowling dismissed the dangerous-looking Ruikar and, when Ross Higham held a catch in Usman's next over to end Matty Hughes' innings, Wallasey were in serious trouble on 18 for 6. Things didn't get immediately better for Wallasey and when Martin Williams became Usman's sixth victim of the day the score was 22 for 7. Josh Rylance offered some resistance and made a decent contribution of 21 but the visitors never looked like getting anywhere near the target and were al out for 50. Usman ended the game with bowling figures of 6-11, while Paul Millar (2-8), Jack Lowrie (1-4) and Liam O'Toole (1-17) were the other wicket-takers. The result was testament not only to an inspirational show of batting from Godleman but an excellent performance from Rainhill in the field. It was the first time Rainhill had beaten Wallasey at home since 2015 and will no doubt provide a huge confidence boost ahead of this Saturday's trip to Ormskirk, who should provide a stiffer test. Many thanks to Peter Mercer for assistance with the match report Umpires: Chris Spencer, Dave Wood
Scorers: Andrew Finney, Will Murphy Match ball sponsor: First4Waste Player of the match: Billy Godleman / Khalid Usman