A MAGNIFICENT century from Keith Bell set Kenilworth Wardens on their way to a Birmingham League Division One winning draw at local rivals Coventry & North Warwickshire on Saturday.
This was Bell’s second return visit to his former club in Wardens’ colours, both of which have delivered three-figure scores. He followed last year’s superb unbeaten 127 with an equally brilliant 107, made from 156 balls with seven boundaries and a six.
The opener added 120 for the third wicket with skipper Scott Stenning 68 to put the visitors firmly on the road to recovery, after a precarious start had seen them slip to 19 for 2.
Tony Wilkinson’s breezy 29 then provided useful late-innings impetus, to ensure Wardens claimed maximum batting points at 240 for 7.
Coventry skipper Rico Du Plessis 49 and Aaron Lewis 30 added 80 for the hosts’ first wicket, before Dan Vernon dismissed both, plus the dangerous Matt Pickering.
Bowling in tandem with Sitanshu Kotak, the slow left-armer’s consistent spell gave Wardens a scent of victory, as the hosts slipped to 181 for 7.
However, a solid unbroken 40-run eighth wicket stand between Adam Simpson and Sam Smart defied their best efforts, to secure Coventry a draw.
Veteran seamer Nick Whiting and teenage leg-spinner Tom Ballinger combined to good effect to steer Wardens 2nds to a comfortable six wicket win over Coventry.
Whiting, in his 33rd season with the Glasshouse Park club, bowled with his usual economy, to claim 3-43 from 15 tidy overs, while Ballinger relished a rare chance to use the new ball, to grab 3-34 from an identical spell.
As a result, the visitors slumped to 79 for 7 and despite a battling 54-run eighth wicket alliance between Ricky Martyn 48no and Vihayakan Manimaran 22, their eventual total of 164 never looked enough on a good Glasshouse Park surface.
Martyn gave Coventry hope with four early scalps before an impressive unbeaten 120-run fifth wicket partnership between Robin de Regt 69no and Dan Phillips 39no ensured James Madley’s team coasted home in the 41st over.
Despite a fine bowling display from skipper Simon Gough and an entertaining half century from Rhys Doherty, Wardens 3rds lost a pulsating Cotswold Hills Division Three match at Woodbourne by one wicket.
The home side’s hero was all-rounder Matt Murray, whose leg-spin ran through the Wardens’ lower order, to return 6-34, after which he contributed a hard-hitting 42, to salvage an unlikely last over win for the hosts.
On a damp, seaming pitch, Doherty’s 63 was the only fluent innings. The Wardens’ opener added 62 for the second wicket with Scott Jones (42), as the visitors progressed to the relative prosperity of 150 for 3 only to crash to 168 all out in the face of Murray’s devastating spell.
Gough, who claimed 4-15, found good movement with the new ball to reduce the hosts to 50 for 4.
However, opener Matt Coombes survived three lives to grind out a crucial 52 and add a crucial 44 for the sixth wicket with Murray.
Wardens’ lack of bowling depth was exposed in the later stages as the Woodbourne tail scrambled to a thrilling final over victory, with the last pair at the crease.
In-form Jamie Brown registered an excellent unbeaten 73, but was unable to prevent Wardens 4ths slipping to a four wicket defeat against Mickleton.
The left-hander’s powerful contribution, plus useful knocks from teenage duo Ben Rex 17 and Harry Johnson 27, plus a breezy 28 from Graham Morris, saw Wardens to 177 all out in 41 overs.
Dave Watling grabbed 5-49 for Mickleton and was also at the heart of their recovery from the depths of 17 for 3 soon after tea.
The all-rounder’s useful 32 steadied the ship in partnership with Graham Wilcock 47, before Dave Salmons 30no and Peter Knight 23no took the visitors to victory in the 36th over.
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