Wardens still looking over their shoulders after Berkswell loss

Mohammed Ahmed holes out off the bowling off Matt Hancock. Picture: Morris Troughton
Mohammed Ahmed holes out off the bowling off Matt Hancock. Picture: Morris Troughton

With just two games remaining in the Birmingham Premier League season, Kenilworth Wardens still need one win to escape relegation after being outplayed by their title-chasing neighbours Berkswell on Saturday.

Home skipper Mark Pidgeon lost the toss but welcomed the opportunity to bowl first on a wicket that offered some pace and bounce.

Wardens seamers Paul Rowe and Tommy Rex tested the opening batsmen, restricting runs within the first power play but could not find the first wicket to set them on their way.

The introduction of spinner Matt Hancock brought immediate success.

Finding turn and bounce from the off, he dismissed Marco Higgins who struggled all the way through his innings, with Max Silvester taking a smart catch behind the stumps.

Fellow opener Mohammmed Ahmed soon followed as he holed out in the deep to give Hancock his second wicket.

While Wardens managed to stem the flow of runs, the visitors kept wickets in hand with Chris Whittock and Nick James taking the score to 126 for two off 34 overs before part-time seamer Gary Maynard removed Whittock with Rowe diving one-handed on the boundary to take the catch of the season.

Wardens sensed the opportunity to run through the Berkswell line-up.

However, James and the free-flowing hitting of Tom Lewis had other ideas.

Lewis clubbed 5 sixes and 8 fours as he cantered to 83 not out off just 52 balls.

Dan Mousley picked up the wicket of James (57) late on but dropped catches and some poor ground fielding allowed the away side to take the game away from Wardens as they finished their 50 overs on 266 for four.

Hancock (2-35) was the pick of the bowlers.

The home reply got off to a poor start with Harry Johnson and Robin De Regt falling victims to tight bowling from one-time Derbyshire bowler Tom Milnes.

Finn McCreath and Silvester soon followed from excellent seam bowling at the other end and Wardens’ hopes of maximum points had disappeared at 44 for four.

Middle-order contributions from Dan Mousley (33) and Rex (16) helped push Wardens towards three figures .

However, Rex was caught in the deep off Ahmed to leave Wardens on 97 for eight.

With Nick Seager unable to bat, Rowe joined Hancock at the crease with the pair needing three runs for a vital batting point.

The tailenders wasted no time reaching their mini target with Rowe launching James for consecutive boundaries.

A second batting point looked on the cards as the reintroduction of paceman Grant Thornton saw Rowe play some destructive strokes in taking 14 off the over.

The fun ended when Rowe’s stumps were castled off the final ball of the over, terminating Wardens’s reply on 140 to leave them 13 points clear of the drop zone.

Wardens must now win either against either Smethwick or fellow strugglers Ombersley to guarantee survival and ensure Premier League cricket at Glasshouse Park in 2019.