Whittock’s ton sets up victory

Nathan Edwards claims the wicket of a clearly unimpressed Mark Best. Picture: Morris Troughton

Nathan Edwards claims the wicket of a clearly unimpressed Mark Best. Picture: Morris Troughton

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Chris Whittock’s excellent unbeaten century secured a comfortable closing-day win for Berkswell at Kenilworth Wardens, writes Paul Smith.

The result ensured Dominic Ostler’s team clinched the Birmingham League Premier Division’s runners-up spot after Shrewsbury had been crowned champions a week earlier.

Their well-balanced side, containing six current or former county cricketers, will doubtless be a short price to go one better in 2016.

Meanwhile, Wardens finished in a respectable eighth position after turning a seemingly relegation-doomed season around with a remarkable second half, during which they lost only to the top two plus third-placed Knowle & Dorridge.

This all means that Midlands cricket’s top-flight will enjoy an attractive sequence of Mid-Warwickshire derbies next season when newly-promoted Leamington rejoin their three Carrick Travel Floodlit Cup rivals.

The visitors effectively batted Wardens out of a rain-curtailed 44-over clash by amassing 315 for three.

Openers Mark Best (39) and Darren Maddy (55) added an even-time 79 before the former England all-rounder became a notable first 1st XI scalp for debutant Joe Jordan.

This set the stage for Whittock to smash five sixes and six fours in his 108-ball unbeaten 100.

Tom Milnes (31) helped him add 56 for the third wicket before fourth partner, former Glamorgan all-rounder Nick James, raced to an unbeaten 58 in their 100-run fifth wicket stand.

Keeper Nick Sale’s fluent 34 got Wardens’ response off to a good start, after which Scott Stenning continued his good recent run of form with a 68-ball 52.

Skipper Martin Donald, batting down the order, then finished with a breezy unbeaten 33 as the hosts closed on 197 for seven.

Jamie Spires claimed three for 36 and Dave Brignull two for 26 for Berkswell.

Wardens 2nds suffered a five-wicket defeat at Halesowen who clinched promotion to the Premier League in the process.

Requiring only five points to secure their elevation, a nervy Halesowen got off to a dream start by removing Andrew Whitehall with the very first ball of the match, caught behind off left-arm seamer Tom Wickstead.

Ben Rex and James Madley then combined for a conservative 69-run partnership which was halted when Halesowen skipper Adam Hawker had Madley lbw for 27.

Off-spinner Hawker (2-35), turning the ball sharply on a helpful wicket, then had Rex caught at mid-wicket for a well-crafted 48, leaving a young Wardens side 98 for four.

This brought 14-year-old Dan Mousley to the crease who combined well with Rahul Trivedi for a 49-run partnership, the former being adjudged lbw reverse-sweeping for 20.

Warwickshire’s Trivedi continued his aggressive knock until he was removed by spinner Masharraf Shazad (2-42) for a useful 39.

Wardens continued their positive finish with an aggressive 18 not out from Andrew Linfield pushing the score to an above-par 189 for seven.

In reply and in keeping with recent games, Wardens had their opponents in a perilous position at 33 for three after Nick Whiting (2-46) and Paul Henderson (1-37) made the most of the seaming conditions.

However, Wardens were unable to capitalise on their early success as Halesowen number three Hassan Qaumi counter-attacked with a hard- hitting run-a-ball 68, striking 12 boundaries.

Trivedi (1-25) bowled Qaumi slog-sweeping to leave Halesowen on 157 for five and Wardens still with a slim chance of victory.

However, experienced duo Richard Cox (30 not out) and Joseph Tromans (20 not out) combined well to take Halesowen to victory.