Explosive innings from Maher lifts Wardens to T20 cup success

Matt Hancock receives the cup from David Kiernan of sponsors Mike Kiernan Cars. Picture submitted
Matt Hancock receives the cup from David Kiernan of sponsors Mike Kiernan Cars. Picture submitted

Kenilworth Wardens defied the best efforts of former Warwickshire all-rounder Nick James (4-19) to lift the Coventry Charity T20 Knock Out with a 35-run win over Berkswell.

The Binley Road final which pitted the county’s two top sides against each other, saw third-placed Wardens turn the tables on the Birmingham Premier League leaders thanks to some explosive batting from Blake Maher plus a consistent bowling and fielding display.

After Aussie ace Maher had blasted four sixes in his 21-ball 44, Wardens’ four-man spin attack, which featured fine spells from 18-year-old Rahul Trevedi (1-19), Mark Pidgeon (2-28) and skipper Matt Hancock (3-31), ensured Berkswell’s quest for 180 closed at 145 for nine.

Hancock praised his side’s consistency with the ball in conditions he said favoured his spin-dominated attack.

“We bowled with great discipline,” he said, “and ultimately that was what won us the game.

“I felt we should have passed 200 from the start we had, but Nick bowled well for them and we lost too many wickets in the middle of our innings.

“The pitch took a little spin, which combined with the big ground here helped our spinners. We had a stronger side out tonight than Berkswell, but they had some good players and it is always nice to win a final.”

Basit Zaman (23) and Scott Stenning (30) got Wardens off to a flying start in a six-over powerplay which delivered 62 runs.

Maher then smashed the bowling to all parts in a superb knock before Arjun Bath also cleared the ropes twice in finishing with an unbeaten 30.

Slow left-armer James claimed the prize scalps of Stenning and Maher plus Nathan Edwards and Martin Donald and a run out in a fine display, but the remainder of the attack struggled to contain Wardens’ batting line-up.

Grant Thornton’s 18-ball 33 got his team’s quest for 180 away to a promising start, but this was checked by the dismissals of Chris Whittock and Ollie Haley.

James (27) then briefly threatened, but his dismissal plus that of skipper Dominic Ostler, spelled the end of the road for the Premier League leaders.