Five-wicket defeat for Kenilworth Wardens at high flying Smethwick
By Paul Smith
30th Aug 2022 | Cricket
Despite another scintillating half-century from Jamie Harrison Kenilworth Wardens suffered a five-wicket defeat at the Broomybank home of champions-elect Smethwick.
The powerhouse left-hander smashed the best bowling attack in the league for a 58-ball 57 as the visitors raced to 85 without loss in just 16 overs.
But that was as good as it got for Andrew Leering's team who then lost their top four in the space of 36 deliveries before going on to be bowled out in the 45th over for 170.
Smethwick's Indian ace Gurinder Singh claimed three wickets and he went on to top-score with 70 as the hosts recovered from 48 for three to stroll over the finishing line in the 33rd over with five wickets intact.
With Barnt Green losing to Shrewsbury the top-flight title is now almost certain to return to Smethwick for the first time since 1968 while a best-ever runners-up position remains a realistic ambition for newly-promoted Wardens.
"The better team won on the day without doubt," Leering acknowledged.
"It was a tough game for us with a couple of youngsters in our batting line-up against quality bowling.
"The wicket did a bit for both seam and spin and we didn't manage to capitalise on our good start.
"I was very pleased with our energy in the field and Tommy Rex and Hugo Whitlock bowled fantastic first spells.
"We thought we had a chance when we got a third wicket but they have lots of depth, Gurinder is a brilliant player and we really could have done with having Alex Wyatt or Josh Baker to really turn the screw for us."
After being inserted Wardens' prolific opening pair Henry Cullen and Harrison got off to an excellent start against the home seamers.
Left-hander Harrison was in typically pugnacious form striking two sixes and seven fours in an even-time 57 while Cullen's more circumspect approach saw him make a 53-ball 33.
The openers added 85 in 16 overs before Kadeer spun an off-break through the Worcestershire wicket-keeper's defences to trigger a collapse which saw four wickets fall for 16 runs.
Kadeer added the prized scalp of visiting Pakistani pro Ali Zaryab who made 12 while Roshan Venkataraman had Harry Johnson (2) and Ollie Dandy (0) caught at the wicket by Raj Beniwal.
Worse followed for Wardens as Venkataraman added Harrison to his haul before Gurinder and Tazeem quickly worked their way through their lower order.
Although skipper Leering battled his way to 30 before becoming Gurinder's first victim, the visitors' lower-order was then blown away by Smethwick's spinners as the last five wickets added just 16 runs.
Tazeem finished with 2-20 while Kadeer (2-32) and Venkataraman (3-22) both also returned eye-catching figures.
This left the hosts chasing 170 but they were soon struggling at 48 for three as Wardens' new-ball pair Tommy Rex and Hugo Whitlock (2-38) made early inroads.
With former county stars Kadeer (10) and Bilal Shafayat (6) plus the in-form Beniwal (13) all back in the pavilion the visitors scented opportunity.
However, fourth-wicket pair Venkataraman and Gurinder steadied the ship with a useful 53-run stand before the former Dorridge all-rounder – who made a ton when the sides met at Glasshouse Park in June - was run out for 41.
This left Smethwick still needing 70 but in the form of usual opener Qamar Khan, Gurinder had the ideal foil as he moved smoothly through the gears.
With Qamar happy to watch from the non-striker's end, the Indian all-rounder dominated a fifth-wicket alliance worth 66, striking eight fours and three sixes in an excellent 62-ball 70.
Although he fell with just eight runs needed, Qamar (20no) was joined by Manraj Johal to edge Smethwick to their ninth win in as many white-ball starts.