HARRY JOHNSON’s brilliant 136 steered Kenilworth Wardens to an impressive 81-run Birmingham Premier League Division One win at Shrewsbury, writes Paul Smith.
The 23-year-old dominated the home attack while posting a second top-flight hundred in three weeks and in the process took the visitors to an above-par 284 for six.
Following this win, Wardens lie sixth in the table at the end of the opening five-match section of white ball cricket and this bright start owes plenty to the club’s reshaped seam attack in which Tommy Rex has been the stand-out performer.
And the Warwickshire prospect took his seasonal tally to 14 wickets with a hostile spell in which he claimed 4-25 as Shrewsbury’s run chase slumped from a promising 142 for one to 203 all out.
Captain Andy Leering pronounced himself “very happy” with his newly-promoted team’s efforts during the opening block of win/lose format matches.
“I am delighted with three wins,” he said, “I would have snapped your hand off for that start if you’d offered it beforehand.
“We have shown that we can compete at the highest level of Midlands club cricket and in particular big wins over Kidderminster and this week at Shrewsbury show our pedigree.
“Harry batted superbly and is scoring runs for fun at the moment – in fact all of the top order are.
“Henry Cullen and Reeve Evitts both kept the board ticking over and played good innings which allowed us to really accelerate in the closing stages.
“280 was a good score but until Reeve and Neylan Chauhan bowled a tight spell in the middle Shrewsbury were going very well.”
When last week’s centurion Ali Zaryab fell for 35, Leering’s team were under pressure at 69 for three. However, Johnson then put together impressive partnerships in the company of Worcestershire hopefuls Cullen and Evitts.
Wardens’ fourth-wicket pair added 83 before their wicket-keeper departed for 34 but better followed as Evitts, who made a fluent even-time 48, joined Johnson in an alliance worth 131.
As he had 14 days earlier during his club’s defeat at Knowle & Dorridge, Johnson was not content to merely reach three figures and as a result went on to log a superb 136 in a 126-ball knock containing 11 boundaries and six sixes.
With 93 runs coming from the closing ten overs, the visitors seemed in a strong position on a pitch offering some assistance to the bowlers only for Shrewsbury openers Will Parton and Lewis Evans to race to 58 in 12 overs.
Home skipper Parton, whose fine 110-ball 80 contained nine fours, then added a further 84 with wicket-keeper Matthew Swift (39) before the introduction of Zaryab’s off-spin checked the flow of runs with the vital wickets of Parton and the dangerous Rob Foster.
And after Chauhan also grabbed two middle-order scalps, Rex bowled fast and full to quickly see off the tail in a 13-ball spell in which he hit the stumps four times.
With Dan Manders unable to bat this meant Shrewsbury were bowled out in the 47th over for 203 while Wardens climbed into the top half of the table alongside a cluster of clubs pursuing unbeaten table-toppers Smethwick.