FOR the first time in a several seasons, HENLEY succeeded in beating HIGH WYCOMBE in their opening Home Counties Premier League Division 1 encounter at the Brakspear Ground last Saturday.
The match was also the first game played in the league under the new 50/50 over win/lose format which will involve the first five and last four games.
Winning the toss on a breezy and at times showery morning, Henley skipper Bjorn Mordt wasted no time in putting last season’s champions High Wycombe into bat.
Tom Nugent, operating from the pavilion end, drew first blood bowling Eyles in the sixth over. Morgan was joined by Birkby who greeted the arrival of Mordt, replacing Nugent from the pavilion end, by hitting him for a couple of boundaries.
The Henley skipper exacted swift revenge to remove Morgan thanks to a fine stumping by keeper Todd Ferguson. This dismissal was bettered only by Simon Wheeler’s caught and bowled as Birkby flat-batted a short delivery back to the bowler who, sharp in the field all day, managed to hold on to a ball.
The score of 58-3 became 58-4 as Wycombe skipper Benning nicked off a swinging Mordt delivery to Dave Allaway at second slip. Zaid let his frustration of 10 dot balls get the better of him as he tried to hit Mordt out of the ground and was bowled for his pains to make it 64-5 in the 19th over.
Cranfield-Thompson was joined at the crease by the equally experienced Duncan. The former flayed the bowlers around and out of the ground as he and Duncan put on 53 for the next wicket before Duncan was out lbw to Ashton Agar.
Dobb marked his arrival at the crease by swatting Nugent, now operating from the Remenham Hill end, for two sixes over deep backward square and contributed a useful 27 before becoming Agar’s second lbw victim of the day.
By now Cranfield-Thompson, caught Ferguson, and Hussain, lbw, had both fallen victim to Gurveer Singh and it was a matter of time before the tail capitulated in the 42nd over leaving Henley to score 164 to win.
A slightly stuttering start saw the early departures of Fahim Qureshi and Jason Barber, but any hopes that Wycombe might have harboured were steadily eroded as Barnes and Allaway took the game away from Wycombe with a 112-run partnership.
A largely youthful bowling attack posed few problems to this experienced pair who took full opportunity to demonstrate their wide range of shots, Barnes imperious through the covers and Allaway increasingly strong through the leg side.
Allaway became Hussain’s third victim and Agar was out caught behind to a loose shot off the bowling of Duncan.
Mordt found his rhythm and accompanied Barnes to an unbeaten 78. Barnes closed out the game with seven overs to spare by hammering Duncan to the boundary square of the wicket and through the covers.
This was a good start to the campaign for Henley against a Wycombe side that is much changed from last year following the departure of some experienced players and the introduction of some home grown and locally recruited youthful talent.
Henley played well, the fielding was sharp, the bowling tight and effective and there was enough form batting on show notwithstanding the absence of Hampshire duo Michael Roberts and Hamza Riazuddin.
M Eyles, b T Nugent 11
A Morgan, st T Ferguson,
b B Mordt 18
A Birkby, c & b S Wheeler 21
J Benning, c D Allaway, b B Mordt 4
c T Ferguson, b G Singh 49
S Zaib, b B Mordt 0
A Duncan, lbw, b A Agar 13
A Dobb, lbw, b A Agar 27
S Hussain, lbw, b G Singh 0
G Harper, not out 4
J Burden, c T Ferguson, b T Nugent 3
Best bowling: B Mordt 3-37, G Singh 2-16, A Agar 2-33, T Nugent 2-45.
F Qureshi, lbw, b S Hussain 0
D Barnes, not out 78
J Barber, b S Hussain 2
D Allaway, b S Hussain 56
A Agar, c Cranfield-Thompson, b A Duncan 4
B Mordt, not out 17
TOTAL (4 wkts) 164
lPlayers wore black arm bands and observed a minute’s silence before the game in honour of Mary Nelson, wife of club president John, who died last week after a long illness.