HENLEY maintained their 100 per cent Home Counties Premier League Division 1 record with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over NORTH MYMMS at the Brakspear Ground on Saturday.
Ashton Agar brought his brief time at Henley to a memorable close with a hat-trick of lbws as North Mymms were dismissed for 166 in 46.1 overs. Agar has now joined up with the touring Australia A squad.
This was followed up by a batting masterclass by Michael Roberts and David Barnes during which the opening duo’s stand of 163 eclipsed Henley’s previous Home Counties Premier League first wicket record stand of 149. This was held by Dave Allaway and Chris Ellison back in 2003 against Slough.
Once again it was a toss to win on a morning ideally suited to bowling at the Brakspear Ground. Skipper Bjorn Mordt duly obliged and the wicket, which had been fully covered the day before, proved a bit of a handful for the first hour.
With a couple of the North Mymms players stuck on the M25, a bit of juggling of their batting order proved necessary.
This was of little moment to Tahir Afridi whose close shout for lbw in the first over prevailed in the third to remove Johnston, Mymms’ South African overseas player.
When Afridi bowled Parker in his next over with Tom Nugent sharp from the Pavilion End, the visitors were rocking at 13-2.
The incoming Snell, the former Gloucestershire and Somerset player, brought all his experience to bear and with the aid of surviving opener Qayyum, moved the score to 68 before Mordt winkled out Qayyum who spooned a shot to cover where Agar made no mistake.
With Hampshire all-rounder and Henley debutant Hamza Riazuddin now operating effectively from the Pavilion End, these were testing times for Mymms, but as long as Snell was in, the visitors were in with a shout.
Snell clouted Mordt for a couple of sixes and brought up his 50 in the 23rd delivery with Agar’s first ball. Riazuddin took his first wicket for Henley having Stewart caught by Allaway at mid-off to make it 4-91.
At 108 Snell became Agar’s first victim of the day as he picked out Afridi, sweeping to deep mid-wicket.
Carter, Wynne and the late arriving Jeyaratnam stuck to their guns and it would take something special to turn things Henley’s way. Mordt rang the changes and with Riazuddin bowled out, brought Gurveer Singh on from the Pavilion End. Agar and Singh’s spin pressure paid off as Wynne nicked off to a diving Mordt at slip. Agar followed that up with his hat-trick of lbws, all three arm balls delivered from considerable height, swinging back in and completely bamboozling Carter, Bamford and Mehta.
After that it was a matter of time and Jeyaratnam’s stubborn resistance ended when he failed to cope with a Nugent bouncer which re-arranged his stumps.
For the third week running, Henley had restricted their opponents to a modest total and had 50 overs to score 167. Roberts and Barnes went about their work steadily and methodically, regularly rotating the strike and running hard without ever giving the chance of a run out, giving any generous delivery the treatment it deserved.
North Mymms’ opening bowlers Mehta and Johnson both probed away and bowled good areas, but it was Wynne’s medium pace and Qayyum’s spin which applied the brakes, just 24 runs coming between the 16th and 25th overs.
With plenty of overs to spare neither batsman was fazed and soon enough, all the visitors’ good work unravelled as Barnes smashed Jeyaratnam to all parts and out of the ground, the bowler going for 24 in just two overs. As the target hove into view, Roberts added to the number of lost balls with a couple of pull shots into Remenham Lane, so ending the returning Wynne’s contribution to the day.
Chavda received similar treatment from both batsmen until, with the score on 163 and both batsmen on 77, Chavda breached Roberts’ defences and bowled him.
The incoming Fahim Qureshi, keen to avoid a third duck in a row, scampered a single. Barnes closed out the innings in short order, hitting Qayyum for a six over long-on.