HENLEY defied the weather and the form book to pull off victory against high flying BURNHAM at the Memorial Ground.
Victory last Saturday in Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League propelled Henley back in the championship mix with half the season now played.
Overnight and early morning rain proved no impediment to an 11am start under a cloudy and blustery sky.
Having won the toss and in ideal swing bowling conditions Henley removed Burnham openers Javed, caught at second slip by Michael Roberts off the bowling of Tahir Afridi and Rehman, caught Bjorn Mordt at first slip, bowled Matt Carter with just one run on the board.
Aided in part by some generous bowling by Carter, Burnham’s skipper, Gandam, and overseas player Zia, effected a repair job to add 59 for the third wicket before Zia was deceived by an Afridi delivery that came back in at him and kept low.
Mordt replaced Carter with himself and he and Afridi began to peg Burnham back. A short rain shower intervened which did no good to Burnham’s momentum, but Gandam brought up his half century, only for Mordt to bowl Kazmi and Gandam to sky a Tom Nugent delivery which the bowler bagged and caught. After lunch, with Burnham on 92-5, Henley maintained their energy and commitment in the field as Kumar and Nadeem tried to regain the initiative.
Carter returned briefly but it was Nugent who forced the pace as Nadeem chipped him to Ryan Bezuidenhout at cover. Things went from bad to worse for Burnham as Kumar was run out going for a run that was never on from the non-striker’s end, keeper Ben McDermott having the presence of mind to recycle the ball to the non-striker’s end where Nugent did the rest.
Burnham were in trouble at 135-7 which only became greater as the spin of Bezuidenhout accounted for Shabbik caught by Barnes at mid-off and Nawaz, caught by Euan Brock at mid-wicket to leave the home side on 144-9.
A sub 150 total looked on the cards but once again the rain intervened and Nadeem and Ali dug in to add 26 valuable runs before Afridi took his third wicket of the day to dismiss Ali caught at cover by Cam Jacobsen.
The couple of showers had already reduced the Henley innings to 48 overs, but more persistent rain now delayed the run chase and also reduced the available overs to 40 or the innings to 7pm whichever would be the later. Tea was taken early and during the break the wicket was rolled with the heavy roller between innings, as directed by the umpires, to remove abrasions to the wicket, caused by the soft rubber tyres on the covers which had been moved on and off several times. This could have been of advantage to the Burnham spinners had they remained.
Roberts was out to the fifth ball of the second over which nipped back and took an inside edge of its way to the stumps, but a trademark pull-shot off the first ball of the innings signified an intent which would characterise the whole innings during which Henley were always in control and Burnham, no matter how hard they tried, were unable to dominate.
Once again, Henley owed a huge debt to a commanding performance by Dave Barnes whose 65 was critical. This was also a day when Ben McDermott was able to showcase his undoubted talents with a stylish 30 before being adjudged lbw.
Brock perished cheaply and the idea of putting Carter up the order to blast Henley home did not come off when he got under a Kazmi delivery and was caught at mid-on.
Barnes and Mordt brought all their experience to bear as they chipped away with ones and twos, nudged and nerdled, and put the bad balls away for boundaries.
With eight overs to go, Henley needed 51 to win and by the time Barnes departed, the equation was down to 21 off 18 balls. Stewart Davison joined his captain and his strong hitting and quick running were a perfect foil to Mordt’s industry and composure.
Now it was Burnham’s turn to feel the heat as they ringed the boundary and squabbled amongst themselves as the ball went over the rope.
By the last over, just four runs were required, Gandam and Malik took a long time to decide what field to set but once they had, it was to no avail as Davison smashed Malik’s first delivery for a one bounce four over mid-wicket where no fielder stood.
R Rehman, c Roberts, b Carter 1
S Javed, c Mordt, b Afridi 0
H Gandam, c & b Nugent 50
A Zia, b Afridi 23
T Kazmi, b Mordt 4
K Kumar, run out 40
R Nadeem, c Bezuidenhout,
b Nugent 12
A Malik, not out 25
A Shabbir, c Barnes,
b R Bezuidenhout 4
M Nawaz, c Brock,
b Bezuidenhout 0
A Ali, c Jacobsen, b Afridi 4
• Best bowling: T Afridi 3-29, R Bezuidenhout 2-16, T Nugent 2-27.
M Roberts, b A Malik 5
D Barnes, st Rehman, b A Ali 65
B McDermott, lbw, b T Kazmi 30
E Brock, b T Kazmi 3
M Carter, c A Shabbir, b T Kazmi 12
B Mordt, not out 24
S Davison, not out 18
TOTAL (5 wkts) 171
• Best bowling: T Kazmi 3-33.