Hill provides stubborn obstacle as Wardens settle for a draw
A brilliant unbeaten 154 from Kidderminster's Mike Hill thwarted Kenilworth Wardens' charge to Birmingham Premier League victory, writes Paul Smith.
The Staffordshire left-hander’s superb knock enabled his team to salvage a draw despite at one stage being 32 for six in response to Wardens’ 279 for eight.
The hosts eventually closed on 213 for seven as Wardens’ six-man attack was only able to claim one scalp in the closing 40 overs on a typically flat Chester Road pitch.
Nonetheless, there were plenty of reasons for visiting skipper Martin Donald to be upbeat about his team’s 17-point return which keeps them firmly in the race for the runners-up spot behind champions-elect Berkswell.
Hill arrived at the crease after Brinder Phagura’s two new-ball victims included the prize wicket of home skipper and former Worcestershire opener Matt Pardoe.
An injury to Blake Maher then saw Junead Zaman enter the attack in the seventh over and his lively outswing quickly demolished the hosts’ middle order.
However, Hill immediately launched a superb counter-attack, which took him to an even-time ton and kept Kiddy’s win hopes flickering.
He added 67 for the seventh wicket with Ryan Field (10), before eventually settling for a more sedate approach and a share of the points while building an unbroken 113-run alliance with Tom Kimberlin.
Kidderminster’s keeper, who batted two hours and 100 balls for his unbeaten 30, proved a resolute partner.
Meanwhile Hill’s superb 150-ball knock - during which he offered only one difficult caught-and-bowled chance - included 19 fours and five sixes.
Zaman (3-68) was the pick of Wardens’ attack, while Phagura claimed three for 49.
Earlier, Donald’s 87 headlined a consistent Wardens batting performance which took them to a par score on a ground with the square boundaries pulled in.
Opener Nick Seager’s recent rich vein of form continued with a powerful 43, during which he coped well with a prolonged spell of ‘chin music’ from home left-armer Richard Kimberlin.
Maher also looked set for a big innings before falling for the same score, made from 48 balls, but Wardens were faltering at 143 for four when Nathan Edwards joined his skipper.
The all-rounder reprised his excellent knock at Berkswell three weeks previously by contributing a mature 45 to a 96-run fifth-wicket partnership.
Zaman then provided excellent late impetus by thrashing 16 from seven balls, while Donald accelerated sharply in the closing stages, before being caught in the deep from the final ball of Wardens’ allowance after stroking ten fours and a six in his 116-ball knock.
Pardoe’s tidy 17-over spell of slow left-arm caught the eye, but it was seamer Liam Weston (4-54) who finished with the best return for the hosts.
Kenilworth Wardens 2nds came up well short in their Birmingham League Division One match at home to Attock 2nds.
Having won the toss and elected to bowl, Wardens made a double breakthrough early on as openers Alistair Wilkinson (1-37) and Joe Jordan (1-28) shared a wicket apiece.
Two more wickets fell for cheap scores as seamer Paul Henderson (1-27) and spinner Mark Pidgeon (1-66) also claimed a wicket each.
Paul Henderson ran out top-scorer Mohammed Harodn for 54 and Kieran Holland picked up a couple of wickets (2-63) but late-order hitting from Usman Hussain (33), Usama Khan (31 not out) and Daanyal Mirza (18 not out) lifted the visitors to a competitive yet reachable 232 for seven.
Wardens’ task was made more difficult when they lost opener Ben Rex with the score on 33.
A second-wicket partnership of 40 between Arjun Bath (37) and Robin De Regt (37) threatened a Wardens revival but, once Bath was removed, Attock dominated as wickets continued to fall and the runs dried up.
Impressive bowling performances from Daanyal Mirza (2-36), Imran Hamid (10-2-28-2) and Aarib Khan (2-17) helped put their side in a very strong position and Wardens eventually closed on 164 for eight.