Saturday, 23 September 2017

Championsbring home title trophy

HENLEY will be looking to put on a valedictory performance in their final match of the Home Counties Premier League season tomorrow (Saturday), at home to Slough, starting at 11am.

Henley are 42 points ahead of second-placed Oxford, cannot be caught barring penalty points, and will be looking to maintain or extend that lead by close of play to round off an exceptional season.

Winning the league would give Henley their sixth Championship since reaching this level and put them one short of High Wycombe who have seven wins, a realistic target for Henley next season if they can carry through their current form.

Henley have been the outstanding team this season and have won games even when not playing their best. Exceptionally well led by captain Michael Roberts and coach Stewart Davison, they have carried through their winning habit to take full points in all four matches since the series of weather-affected games a few weeks ago.

Through the season they have lost just two matches, compared to the next lowest total of four, coincidentally by Slough, and they have won 10. A big factor in this has been the form of Henley’s strike bowlers, Tom Nugent and Tahir Afridi, who are at the top of their game and at the top of the League averages with 36 and 35 wickets respectively.

Roberts has scored the most runs in the League, 766 to date, and new signing Waqas Hussain plus promising youngsters Euan Woods and Jack Davies have contributed massively in a fine all-round team effort.

This should be a good last match. Slough’s skipper Bobby Sher has pulled his team well clear of relegation with a string of good performances, indeed they have drawn one and won three of their last four matches, to put them in sixth spot.

Last week Slough beat 2017 champions Finchampstead and Sher chipped in with four wickets himself. Their front line seamers Ikhlaq Nawaz and overseas player Zohaib Ahmed, with 49 wickets between them, are well supported by spinners Steve Green and Ali Akbar Raja, with 42 wickets between them. In the batting department Fahim Quereshi is top scorer with 520 runs, closely followed by Lloyd Paternott on 476, plus a host of other talented players. So all looks set for a good day at the Brakspear Ground and a fitting finale to the season.

Henley 2nds finish their season with a match away at 4th placed Gerrards Cross. The 2nds have done extremely well to secure their future in this very competitive division, the top level of the Thames Valley League, and will look to build on this further next season.

Henley 3rds are away at Boyne Hill 2nds. After last week’s match, forfeited by Chiswick and Whiton, they sit as runners up to this week’s opponents and will be keen to do well as they continue to strive for promotion. Both these matches start at 12.30pm.

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