COOKHILL climbed to third in Worcestershire League Division Ten after a thrilling two-run victory over visitors Harborne 5ths on Saturday.
The hosts’ 129 all out off 41.3 overs appeared woefully short as only three batsmen made double figures, but Cookhill at least posted something they had a chance of defending thanks to a last-wicket partnership of 39 between maturing Harvey Phillips and the reliable Andy Fennell (47).
Fennell and Phillips then opened the bowling but neither were able to make the crucial early breakthrough as Shan Subbiah played and missed repeatedly on the offside while his aerial legside shots frustratingly were always just out of the fielders’ reach.
With a quarter of the runs obtained, the breakthrough was made by Fennell who first bowled Will Clarke for 23 before Simon Kerks was bowled for a duck off his pads.
Neil Shuttleworth, who had replaced Phillips, joined the party and took two wickets in two balls and suddenly Harborne were four down and anything seemed possible.
Young county player Yusuf Samir dug in along with Qasim Sohail as both saw out Shuttleworth, leaving him with the impressive figures of 2-7 off nine overs.
Kenny Hirst replaced Shuttleworth who bowled his last deliveries through the pain of a pulled hamstring and struck straight up as he bowled Samir for six and then had Sohail (12) caught by Daniel Mills in the following over.
Roger Smith and Hirst kept things tight, but not as tight as Fennell’s calf muscles which had cramped up badly, but Jay Anandou kept the scoreboard slowly ticking along.
Fennell dragged his failing body back on to bowl his final three overs. Only able to bowl spin, he battled heroically through the pain to trap Mohamed leg before and then had Oscar Lyttle caught by Smith.
Smith was brought back on and had Yuvunash Narantharakumar caught and bowled, bringing skipper Mark Wylde to the crease. The game was on a knife-edge with Cookhill searching for the final wicket and Harborne knowing a handful more runs would secure victory.
Young Phillips replaced Smith and produced another mature spell to keep things tidy but could not find that final wicket. As the game entered the 45th but not the final over thanks to the three extra gained from the first innings, Hirst looked around his battle-wearied men and wondered who could be a hero.
Up stepped Chris Pearsall. Jay Anandou took an early single, leaving Harborne just two runs behind but with the final ball of the over Pearsall dropped it slightly short and Wylde rocked back, clipped the ball into his thigh and the ball agonisingly tumbled towards the ground. Smith lunged forward and just managed to take the catch to seal a thrilling win.
Cookhill visit Redditch Entaco 3rds at the Entaco on Saturday (1pm).