Birch’s Rollers send out title message on new ground

LEADING BY EXAMPLE  - -     Rolls skipper Dan Birch, who hammared a magnificent century to stun Nottss CCC Academy
LEADING BY EXAMPLE - - Rolls skipper Dan Birch, who hammared a magnificent century to stun Nottss CCC Academy

Different home ground, same ROLLS-ROYCE LEISURE. That was the message to the rest of the Notts Premier League (NPL) after the opening day of the 2014 season.

For Rolls delivered a display which suggests that while they might have transferred their talents from the company’s sports site at Hucknall to the one at Derby, they remain a powerhouse force to be reckoned with.

The Derby debut resulted in a massive 137-run victory over Notts CCC Academy. A result that not only sent shivers down the spines of the hierarchy at Trent Bridge, but also cemented The Rollers as early-season favourites to win the NPL title.

Manager John Birch has strengthened his squad from last season when they finished second, only six points behind champions West Indian Cavaliers.

But it was his own son, and the team’s captain, Dan Birch, who guided Rolls to their demolition of the Notts youngsters.

In fact, Birch jnr rescued them from a disastrous start that saw two of the new faces, Shaun Levy and Ross Camelley, castled for ducks in the first over of the match, bowled by Ben Kitt.

Nineteen-year-old Cornish paceman Kitt, who went on to take six for 46 from 10.5 overs, also removed opener Gurpej Landa, a third fresh signing, for 15.

But Birch transformed the innings with a magnificent 116 from 122 balls, firing five sixes and 11 fours.

He shared stands of 120 with Tom Lungley (52, seven fours) and 55 with Michael Millwood (18). And by the time he was finally bowled on 209, Rolls were well on their way to a healthy total in their allotted 50 overs -- one boosted also by an unbeaten 23 from Adam Shepherd.

Shepherd (two for 62 in ten overs) then fronted a Rolls bowling attack that was too hot for Notts to handle.

He himself was more expensive than you’d like. But Lungley (three for 23 in nine overs), new boy Atif Sheikh (two for 21 in six) and Matt Roberts (two for eight in six) were exemplary, skittling the visitors inside 31 overs.

The only resistance was provided in the middle order by Simon Webster with 39 (one six and three fours) and by the Notts skipper, hardy veteran Paul Franks, who cracked 25 (one six and three fours) going in at number six..