CRICKET: Rolls’s Birch era starts with bang

THE JOHN Birch era got off to a flying start at Rolls-Royce Leisure in the top flight (Division A) of the Gunn And Moore South Notts League.

Birch has marched into Rolls as chairman, manager and coach with big plans to transform them into a Notts Premier League club.

And after near misses in the past two seasons, The Rollers showed they mean business by hammering Notts Unity Casuals, a useful side who finished just below them in fourth spot last term.

Although Birch has lost key man Jason Gorman, who has quit to captain Edwinstowe in the Bassetlaw League, he has unveiled a posse of new signings. And three of them — Arslan Butt, Matthew Roberts and Jusnain Riaz — made their mark in the Unity clash.

College student Butt was the star with a fine innings of 61 that helped Rolls reach a presentable total in their allotted 50 overs.

He was well supported by last season’s top rungetter Raheem Karim, who fired 37, and opener Wasim Karim, who made 31, while teenage all-rounder Roberts, who also opened the batting, weighed in with 18 before being run out.

Unity’s best bowler, Usman Aziz (five for 50 in 16 overs) kept plugging away.

But late knocks of 19 from Waheed Khan and 18 not out from Adul Sultan Khan kept the board ticking over for Rolls, who also benefited from a flurry of 39 extras, including 24 wides.

In reply, the visitors lost a couple of early wickets to Saleem Karim (two for 24 in nine overs) and Ansar Khan (one for 32 in five) — and they subsequently struggled to recover.

Scott Harvey (31), Matt Cross (29) and James Marshall (27) all got out when looking threatening, so it wasn’t long before Rolls took command.

Their three change-bowlers were also among the wickets, with Riaz, who was impressing in the NPL last season for Papplewick and Linby, taking two for 39 from nine overs, off-spinner Roberts two for 22 from seven and Tayyab Khan two for 18 from 11.

Unity were still almost 100 runs short when their final wicket fell at the end of the 41st over.