Smith's intervention comes too late to spin Leamington to derby victory
Four wickets apiece for Brinder Phagura and Junead Zaman plus a half-century from Blake Maher saw Kenilworth Wardens to a four-wicket win over local rivals Leamington, writes Paul Smith.
The seam duo, who found a damp Arlington Avenue pitch to their liking, sent the hosts packing in the 52nd over for 152.
Maher’s powerful 56 then saw the visitors home in the 37th over despite the best efforts of Neil Smith, who also claimed four wickets.
The result lifts Wardens into fourth place in the Birmingham Premier League table as the season approaches its midpoint and extends their recent run of good form.
Phagura’s first season in Wardens colours has already delivered 22 league wickets and he was quickly into his stride after Leamington had been inserted in bowler-friendly conditions.
The hosts’ middle order all got starts, but none of Nick Couzens (29), Jonny Wigley (22) or skipper Lee Hopkins (39) were able to go on to a big score as Phagura’s accuracy and some excellent swing bowling from Zaman (4-31) maintained a tight grip on proceedings.
Basit Zaman’s leg-spin then kept the lower order in check and as a result Leamington’s last six wickets added only 54 runs.
Phagura finished with four for 38, while Wardens distinguished themselves in the field by holding catches to dismiss all ten home batsmen.
Nick Seager’s typically breezy 31 then got Wardens’ chase off to a good start and with Keith Bell (23) and Maher in residence at 98 for two, a comfortable away win seemed likely.
However, former Warwickshire skipper Smith showed he has lost few of his skills and he removed both batsmen on his way to a fine four-for- 16 return from 12 excellent overs of off-spin.
However, the visitors were not to be denied as Phagura completed a fine all-round match by seeing Wardens home with an unbeaten 17.
Aussie all-rounder Maher’s 56 included seven fours and two sixes, while Tom Warner claimed two for 65 for Leamington.
Kenilworth Wardens 2nd XI gained a winning draw in their Birmingham & District Premier League Division One fixture at home to Bridgnorth.
Having won the toss, Wardens elected to bat and on a tricky surface made solid, if slow, progress, reaching 121 for three.
Dan Wood made the top score of 52, well supported by Ben Rex (21) and Mainak Ray (20).
Matthew Martin provided the most telling contribution with the ball, first dismissing Wood before going on to finish with fine figures of four for 22 as Wardens’ innings tailed away to 158 for nine off 50 overs.
In response, Bridgnorth lost wickets at regular intervals, with tight bowling from Nick Whiting (2-24) and Mark Pidgeon (2-20) applying the pressure in the early stages.
Ben Barclay (23) and Andrew Mooney (34) provided the bulk of the runs before Bridgnorth settled for a draw.
However, Dan Mousley (4-18) almost spun Wardens to victory, with the visiting just holding out on 122 for nine from their 50 overs.