Kenilworth Wardens upset the odds to defeat reigning champions Knowle & Dorridge in a game that will live long in the memory of the Glasshouse Park faithful.
Wardens, fielding five players aged 18 or under, and four Warwickshire academy players, were asked to field as Knowle & Dorridge selected first use of a good, but worn wicket.
Sam Reddish’s men, who were missing their 1,500-run-a-season Kiwi star George Worker due to a minor hamstring injury, were soon under pressure as Prerak Mankad tore through their top order in a dramatic opening spell.
Prerak, in his second season as overseas professional, found real rhythm on a placid surface as he removed four of the visitors’ top five.
Fifteen-year-old Tommy Rex, bowling in tandem with Mankad, ensured the pressure was maintained throughout the first hour, returning figures of 7-1-22-0.
When Dan Mousley removed Reddish for 26, Knowle were in real trouble at 84 for six.
However, a useful 45-run partnership developed between Tom Smith and Jack Grundy before the former was removed by Matt Hancock for a watchful 51-ball 27.
Grundy continued his restrained knock as wickets fell at the other end and was the last man to depart, bowled by Hancock for 39 as the visitors were dismissed for 165.
In reply, Wardens were soon 14 for two as Will Mottram had Maynard lbw and with the very next ball had Harry Johnson caught behind.
Wardens were indebted to powerful opener Nick Seager who took the game to Knowle & Dorridge, striking three clean sixes as he kept the scoreboard moving.
Seager combined well with number four Mousley to progress the score to 80 before the former was removed for a 48-ball 42.
Sixteen-year-old Warwickshire prospect Mousley batted well with Mankad, building a 42-run partnership before the latter was adjudged lbw off the bowling of former Wardens skipper Scott Stenning for 22.
With only 45 runs needed and plenty of overs in hand, Wardens needed a calm head to steer them to victory and Rex did just that with a 55-ball 15 not out.
Mousley departed for 48 and Max Silverster also fell for 13 but there were still four wickets and more than four overs to spare when skipper Pidgeon hit the winning runs.
Pidgeon was delighted with his inexperienced side’s performance, saying: “I’m proud of the way we played against an excellent Knowle & Dorridge side.
“We’ve really worked hard on our culture and team spirit and that definitely shone through today.
“I’m so proud of my players and particularly Dan Mousley who batted superbly for someone so young.”
An unusually poor Knowle & Dorridge wicket saw Wardens’ 2nd XI emerge victorious in a game where 20 wickets fell for only 250 runs.
After Wardens won the toss and elected to bat, James Madley and James May battled hard to see off excellent opening spells from Jack Tyler and Mike Brown.
Madley (7) was caught behind off Brown and the very next ball Robin De Regt was pinned lbw by an inswinging yorker to leave Wardens 18 for two.
The introduction of left-arm spinner Shahid Arif relieved some of the pressure on the visitors as May and Rich Anthony batted with relative ease.
May cleared the boundary rope for three maximums but he lost Anthony who was caught at slip off Arif for 16.
Tom Brammer’s stay was a brief one and from 75 for two, Wardens had quickly slipped to 80 for four.
May progressed to 57 before he was run out via a direct hit and three cheap wickets for Gareth Davies (3-8 off six) helped see off the tail in quick time as Wardens were bowled out for 141 in just under 40 overs.
In reply, Wardens utilised their four-man seam attack well on the green surface.
Nick Whiting removed four of the top five in an excellent nine-over opening spell to reduce them to 50 for five and was only denied a deserved five-wicket haul when his ageing body prevented him clinging on to a caught and bowled chance.
Tom Mordey (1-9) also contributed a dismissal and there was some brief resistance from Charlie Rowe who hit a couple of booming sixes in a 17-ball 35.
However, despite taking some punishment Henderson (3-61) dismissed him lbw as Knowle were bowled out for 105.
“It’s nice to finally get our season underway with a victory,” said Madeley. “Nick Whiting’s spell again proved what an asset he is to this side.
“I’m proud of our response in the field to what was a weak batting performance.”