28th Jun, 2022

CRICKET - Cullen half-century in vain as Kenilworth Wardens suffer six-wicket defeat

HENRY CULLEN’s battling half-century was the only bright spot for Kenilworth Wardens during their six-wicket Birmingham Premier League Division One home defeat by Ombersley, writes Paul Smith.

Having won a vital toss, in former Worcestershire star Gareth Andrew the bottom-of-the-table visitors had the perfect bowler to exploit heavy overhead conditions and a green Glasshouse Park pitch and the veteran seamer took full advantage by claiming 5-20 from 11 immaculate overs.

Opener Cullen proved his only major obstacle before being ninth out for an excellent 51 as the hosts were dismissed four overs shy of their rain-reduced 34-over allocation for 91.

With drizzle constantly falling the visitors took a positive approach and led by opener Josh Dell’s unbeaten 49 they cruised to the victory that boosts their top-flight survival hopes in the 22nd over.

“In truth the toss went a long way to deciding the game,” Wardens’ captain Andy Leering said.

“It was a very green pitch which made someone of Gareth Andrew’s quality an extremely difficult proposition. He moved the ball both ways at pace and thoroughly deserved his five wickets.

“Henry played a superb innings – he looked like he was on a different pitch to the rest of us. He has really taken his opportunity since moving to the top of the order and has made the spot his own.

“We then didn’t bowl as well as they had and once their openers had got to 50 the game was over.”

Following the loss of nearly three hours to rain the contest was reduced to 34 overs per side and after being inserted on pitch which had been covered for most of the previous 24 hours Wardens were soon struggling.

Andrew trapped the in-form Jamie Harrison lbw with the fourth ball of the match then had the home side’s Pakistani pro Ali Zaryab taken behind the wicket with his next delivery.

The hosts’ best spell came during a 32-run third wicket partnership between Cullen and Harry Johnson (20) but with Andrew finding substantial seam movement at a lively pace Wardens lost wickets at regular intervals.

Ombersley’s strike bowler received good support from left-arm seamer Elliot Mason (2-24) before slow left-armer Fahad Sabir polished off the tail.

Cullen’s superb knock came to a fitting end when he was the victim of Dell’s incredible one-handed catch on the long leg boundary which was completed at the second attempt after the fielder was forced to throw the ball skyward while he briefly overbalanced beyond the boundary rope. Wardens’ wicket-keeper struck five fours and a six during his 74-ball stay.

The home side needed a cluster of early wickets but they were unable to make a breakthrough as Ombersley openers Dell and Declan Lines (22) progressed to 52.

Although Hugo Whitlock then followed the wicket of Lines with that of visiting skipper Liam Gwynne – who struck a six and a four from the four balls he faced – the hosts were always up against it.

And fittingly it was Andrew who was at the crease alongside Dell, whose 59-ball 49 contained nine boundaries, when Ombersley completed their chase in the 22nd over.

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