Wardens close in on instant return to top flight

Half-centuries for Scott Stenning and Sitanshu Kotak plus three wickets from Dan Vernon steered Kenilworth Wardens to a winning draw against Shifnal, writes Paul Smith (Write Angle Media).

Captain Stenning (65) and Kotak, who finished with an unbeaten 56, took the hosts to 234 for eight before slow left-armer Vernon stepped in to claim three for 59 as the visitors closed on 198 for seven.

The 14-point haul maintained Wardens’ good run, which has seen them climb to within a point of the Division One summit with seven matches remaining.

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On a flat-but-slow Glasshouse Park pitch, Stenning added 71 for Wardens’ second wicket with Robin de Regt, who justified his promotion from the 2nd XI with a useful 37.

The skipper, who added a further 54 with Kotak, looked well-set for a hundred before spooning up a catch from persevering seamer Adam Shimmons, who finished with three for 58.

However, Wardens failed to fully capitalise on their solid base and, with wickets falling regularly to leg-spinner James Kidson (4-62), they finished six runs shy of the final batting point at 234 for eight.

While Shifnal’s second-wicket duo Tom Collins (49) and Chris Brabazon (53) were together, a shock away win briefly looked possible. However, once Mark Pidgeon grabbed a crucial breakthrough, momentum soon subsided.

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Although Vernon (3-59) and Kotak (2-65) wrested the initiative back for the home side, George Collins’ unbeaten 52 ensured Wardens never seriously threatened a win.

Teenage batsman James Ray recorded his first Birmingham League hundred as Wardens 2nds annihilated a poor Eastnor side by 138 runs.

Ray received good support from all-rounder Paul Henderson (51) and keeper Sam Proctor (30), while an ill-disciplined six-man home attack conceded 42 extras.

The arrival of Ray’s landmark in the 47th over triggered an early closure by skipper James Madley, with his team well-placed at 244 for five.

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While Eastnor opener Sam Peplow (54) was joined by Tom Locke (29) in a useful second-wicket partnership, it looked as though the Dons may need the three extra overs their declaration had earned.

However, a brief rain stoppage triggered a remarkable collapse as Henderson and Liam Newton quickly dismissed the second-wicket duo, before ripping through the remainder of Eastnor’s batting in only eight further overs.

The veteran trundler’s gentle swing returned four for 38, while seamer Newton finished with the remarkable figures of five for seven from 18 deliveries as the home side capitulated for 106 in only 26.2 overs.

• Despite an outstanding 105 from Chris Beaumont-Dark, Dorridge under-17s were edged out by their Wardens’ counterparts in a thrilling finale.

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Beaumont-Dark, who hit 15 boundaries and a six in his fine knock, received too little support at the other end as his team fell five runs short of their 161-run target.

Wardens were indebted to steady spells from Vishnu Menon (1-21) and Jack Sorrell (1-22), but it was a brilliant Ollie Kontis catch in the deep from the penultimate ball which ultimately clinched victory.

Earlier, Sanders (40) and Sorrell (42 not out) had steered the visitors to a competitive total, despite Beaumont-Dark’s two for 30.  

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