Veteran Kotak has memorable start to his Wardens swansong

Sitanshu Kotak's century was unable to stave off an opening-day league defeat for Kenilworth Wardens.
Sitanshu Kotak's century was unable to stave off an opening-day league defeat for Kenilworth Wardens.

Sitanshu Kotak launched his 20th and final season in English cricket with a brilliant 109 but was unable to prevent Kenilworth Wardens slipping to a six-wicket defeat at the hands of last season’s Birmingham Premier League runners-up Barnt Green, writes Paul Smith.

The 42-year-old former India A left-hander’s first league hundred for three years looked to have set the visitors on their way to opening-day victory when they posted a formidable 50-over target of 281.

However, a man at the other end of his playing career, 18- year-old Matt Lamb, had other ideas and his superb unbeaten ton hurried the hosts home with 20-balls remaining.

After losing two early wickets, Kotak and opener Keith Bell built an outstanding 150-run third-wicket partnership.

Bell’s innings blossomed as it progressed before he was run out for an elegant 98-ball 66.

Skipper Martin Donald (18) then joined his senior pro to add a quickfire 40 before late flurries from Udit Talati (19) and Rajan Bhatti took Wardens to 281 for nine.

Kotak found the boundary 16 times in his characteristically workmanlike 125-ball knock.

Sam Cheshire signalled Barnt Green’s intent by taking 12 from Dan Wood’s opening over and, although Bhatti claimed an early scalp, former Leamington all-rounder Luke Radford (37) joined his wicketkeeper, who finished with 43, to add 75 brisk second-wicket runs.

Wardens’ hopes were lifted when slow left-armer Matt Hancock dismissed both batsmen in quick succession, but this only provided the cue for Lamb to launch his onslaught. He struck five sixes and ten fours in an outstanding 91-ball unbeaten 108, adding 89 fourth-wicket runs with skipper Andy Sutton.

Poysden’s unbeaten 30 then provided Lamb with effective support in an unbroken 88-run fifth-wicket alliance.

Nick Sale’s superb unbeaten 79 steered Kenilworth Wardens into the second round of the ECB 45-over National Knock Out courtesy of a comprehensive six-wicket win at Stourbridge.

The wicketkeeper came to the crease with Wardens’ quest for 203 in some difficulty at 39 for three, and proceeded to stroke 14 fours and a six in his excellent match-clinching 65-ball knock.

He was joined in an entertaining 132-run fourth-wicket partnership by Nathan Edwards, who continued his own excellent early-season form with an even-time 60.

This left Tom Brammer to accompany Sale in seeing the visitors over the line with 14 overs remaining.

Although Wardens’ potent batting line-up have now passed 200 in all four of their early-season matches, their bowlers are finding life substantially harder, as the Stourbridge innings demonstrated.

The visitors’ six-man attack conceded no fewer than 41 wides to negate the positive impressions made by spinners Matt Hancock (2-39) and Scott Stenning (2-20), plus seamer Edwards (2-36).

Along with useful contributions from opener Mikesh Jivan-Patel (40) and skipper Matt Bradley (60), who added 68 for the third wicket, this profligacy enabled the hosts to post a competitive-looking 202 for eight.