FORMER England international Darren Maddy provided Kenilworth Wardens with a batting masterclass as his imperious unbeaten 158 led Birmingham Premier League leaders Berkswell to a seven wicket win.
The 43-year-old ex-Warwickshire skipper, who played for England at one-day and T20 level, highlighted the gap between professional cricket and even the Birmingham Premier League, which is possibly the strongest club competition in the country.
His ability to clinically despatch anything remotely off line to the boundary set him a class apart from the other 21 players, even on a day when the champions-elect fielded six men with first class or list A experience.
Maddy struck 22 fours and a six to steer the hosts to their 263-run target with ten overs and seven wickets remaining. Berkswell now hold a 49 point lead at the head of the table and seem certain to secure the title well before the end of the season.
By contrast, Wardens have slipped to fifth place after consecutive defeats, but will take heart from half centuries for Harry Johnson, Basit Zaman and especially Nathan Edwards, who crashed a brilliant unbeaten 75 from only 43 balls, after their middle-order had collapsed.
On a flat pitch with one very short boundary, teenage opener Johnson again impressed against a quality seam attack led by Derbyshire’s Tom Milnes and Griqualand’s Gerry Cloete.
His 103-ball 88 contained 12 boundaries, and in partnership with Zaman (53) he had taken Wardens to a position to post a 300-plus total at 137 for one.
However, former Glamorgan all-rounder Nick James (4 for 69) dismissed both well-set batsmen, before becoming the chief beneficiary of some poor shot selection.
Cloete, who finished with 4 for 78, then bounced out the middle-order with a fiery spell, and at 187 for nine the visitors had lost eight wickets for 50.
Last man Matt Hancock then joined Edwards in an excellent 75-run tenth wicket partnership. Edwards hit eight boundaries and scored four maximums in a knock that helped Wardens to a competitive total of 262 for 9 from 55 overs.
Wardens’ hopes were further boosted by the early dismissal of Mark Best, but Maddy looked in ominously good touch in taking the score to 73 with second wicket partner Chris Whittock (18).
The veteran opener was then joined by another former Bear, Tom Lewis, in a 140-run third wicket stand which effectively ended Wardens’ chances.
Left-handed Lewis struck six fours and a six in his 52-ball 50, and after his dismissal Milnes joined a growingly aggressive Maddy, whose unbeaten 158 came from only 137 balls, in seeing the hosts to a comfortable win.