Leamington’s league season got off to a faltering start with both First and Second XIs losing their opening fixtures, albeit in differing circumstances.
The First XI arrived at Smethwick to find the outfield being mown, after a fashion, and a hastily prepared wicket which meant the toss was all-important.
Unfortunately, Lee Hopkins called incorrectly and Leamington were inserted on a surface that offered help to the bowlers.
Smethwick’s experienced attack used the conditions well and Leamington’s new-look batting line-up fared poorly with only opener Alex Mellor (22), Lee Hopkins (15) and Nathan Hooker (12) reaching double figures.
A total of 94 all out was well below par, even on a difficult surface.
For Smethwick, Mo Sheikh took a miserly three for seven, with two wickets apiece for Sajid Ahmedazai, Mohammad Jan and Qasim Shah.
Conditions after the break eased a little as the wicket dried, though Tom Warner struck in his first over.
Sheikh anchored Smethwick’s reply, compiling a patient 42, while Waqar Saleem chipped in with 24 as the Black Country outfit eased to victory by six wickets.
Warner eventually dismissed Sheikh - one of two catches for Mellor - but Leamington were, in truth, well beaten.
In contrast, the Second XI entertained Kenilworth Wardens on an excellent strip at Arlington Avenue, coming up just short in a match where more than 500 runs were scored.
The visitors, making their first appearance in the top flight since 2009, batted first, and were indebted to Dan Phillips (56) and Robin De Regt (65) for a fine start as they added 141 for the second wicket.
A mid-innings wobble then followed, catalysed by James Gethins’ effective spell of off-break bowling (2-29), before new signing Richard Anthony proceeded to strike several powerful blows, particularly through the cover region, in a 50-ball unbeaten 70 which propelled the visitors to an imposing 258 for five from their 45 overs.
The challenging total was aided by 32 extras.
In response, the hosts set about their target in positive fashion, led by a well-made 46 from the ageless David Hawkes.
A typically wily spell of seam bowling from Paul Henderson (3-27), in tandem with up-and-coming youngster Tommy Rex (1-60) then followed as the hosts slipped from 90 for one to 102 for five in the space of 28 deliveries.
With the visitors sensing victory, Lee Credington (42 not out) continued to accumulate all around the wicket before being joined by Muhammed Dogar who entertained all in an astonishing display of power hitting which brought six boundaries and five maximums in a 38-ball 69 to wrestle the hosts back into contention.
When he was eventually dismissed by the unconventional spin of Anthony, marking a notable all-round debut for the newcomer, Leamington were left needing 14 runs from the final over tasked to 14-year old Rex, who showed impressive nerve to restrict the hosts and seal a five-run victory for his side.