A REMARKABLE innings from Walmley tail-ender Ray Cooper denied Kenilworth Wardens a Birmingham League Premier Division victory on Saturday.
The opening bowler smashed an unbeaten 101 to steer the hosts to safety at 244-7, in response to Wardens’ 304-6, and this outcome of a winning draw and 15 points for Wardens was especially harsh on Keith Bell, whose beautifully crafted 103 had laid the foundation of the visitors’ mammoth total.
Nonetheless, Martin Donald’s team banked the lion’s share of the draw points to further cement their mid-table position as the season approaches its mid-point.
Opener Bell struck 12 fours and two sixes, to go one better than brother Ian, who narrowly failed to celebrate his 100th Test appearance with a hundred on the same day. He shared in a 119-run opening stand with Nick Seager, whose 71-ball 64 got the visitors off to a flying start on a superb batting pitch.
Wardens’ third meaningful contribution came from Sitanshu Kotak, who stroked 11 boundaries in a typically workmanlike 77-ball 80. The Indian ace added 141 with Bell in a third wicket alliance which ensured the visitors passed 300 for the first time this season, despite the best efforts of Mike Waugh, who finished with 4-75.
Walmley’s response then stuttered to 123-7, before Cooper’s remarkable knock lit up the closing stages. Dan Wood and Kotak claimed the key wickets of Warwickshire’s Freddie Coleman (20) and former Scotland international Navdeep Poonia (18), and when Mark Pidgeon snared opener Danial Choudhry for a useful 51 the visitors looked likely winners.
However, while Chris Whittock dug in for an unbeaten 87-ball 37, Cooper launched an astonishing counter-attack from number nine. He smashed nine sixes and eight fours in a scintillating 68-ball hundred, reaching three figures shortly before the close.
Left-arm spinners Kotak (3-69) and Pidgeon (2-33) led the way for Wardens, who visit Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday.