Despite a fluent 80 from Jamie Harrison, Kenilworth Wardens were forced to settle for a losing draw at Halesowen, writes Paul Smith.
The visitors closed on 262 for eight after Halesowen earlier piled up 344 for six on the back of 88 apiece from second wicket pair Shane Setia and Billy Cox.
Pakistani pro Ali Zaryab also made a half-century in the visitors’ response but it was a mature unbeaten 38 from teenager Reeve Evitts that ultimately ensured that Andy Leering’s team held out for a share of the spoils.
The seven points banked see Wardens join Knowle & Dorridge and Moseley in third place in the Birmingham Premier League Division One table where their 98-point tally leaves them 28 adrift of second-placed Barnt Green and a further 14 in arrears of early pace-setters Smethwick.
“We let Halesowen get away from us a bit in the later stages of their innings,” Wardens’ skipper Leering acknowledged.
“On a good track and fast outfield a total around 310 was within reach, but once they went to 344 we had plenty to do.
“Reeve kept it pretty tight but overall we weren’t as consistent with the ball as we have been in recent times.
“Jamie then batted very well – as a former Halesowen player it was an important knock for him and he put us in with a chance.
“Ali also played a fantastic knock before getting a superb ball. If he had stuck around we’d have had a good chance.”
Alex Bingham (28) helped opening partner Setia add 54 before the Kiwi was joined by Cox in an excellent 145-run second-wicket alliance.
Setia’s 121-ball 88 included 13 fours and a six and after he fell with the score at 199 former Old Hill star Cox joined forces with Ed Bragg (37) to add a further 57.
Cox’s 88 came from only 90 balls, nine of which found the boundary and four of which cleared it.
When Evitts grabbed the prized scalp of former Worcestershire all-rounder Alexei Kervezee the visitors had a chink of light only for Wes Griffiths and James Rudge to dominate the closing stages.
The seventh-wicket pair blasted an unbroken 57 from only 22 balls to launch their side – who entered this round seven contest in the bottom two – way beyond 300. Wicket-keeper Griffiths made 25 from 18 balls, but it was Rudge’s violent 16-ball 43 containing six boundaries and two sixes which really caught the eye.
Medium-pacer Evitts who finished with 4-65 was the pick of the visitors’ attack.
Wardens’ response was led by former Halesowen opener Harrison who was joined by teenage debutant Ollie Dandy (14) in a 53-run opening stand.
But it was his second-wicket partnership with Zaryab – whose elegant 44-ball 57 contained five fours and three sixes – which propelled the visitors’ run chase into contention.
Harrison also cleared the ropes three times in addition to striking eight boundaries before being stumped by Griffiths off Harry Kitchen for an even-time 80.
Kitchen also picked up the in-form Henry Cullen (32) plus dangermen Tommy Rex and Leering in a fine 12-over spell which returned 4-55.
As a result the visitors’ hopes of an unlikely win slowly faded before ninth-wicket pair Evitts and Hugo Whitlock dug in to secure a draw.