HENLEY steamrollered TRING PARK on their way to a seventh victory this year, their sixth on the bounce, at the Brakspear Ground last Saturday.
In terms of quality, commitment, energy and team spirit, this was a performance right out of the top drawer to which the visitors had no answer.
Thanks once again to the hard work of groundsman Tony King, the steady rain throughout Friday evening failed to prevent play starting on time at 11am, the odd damp patch covered in sawdust.
The warm, humid and slightly cloudy conditions nonetheless favoured the option of bowling first which skipper Bjorn Mordt duly took when he won the toss.
In no time at all the visitors were a wicket down as their Australian overseas player Maddinson pushed the ball into the covers and set off for an ambitious run that was of no interest to Pritchard at the other end. Euan Brock was on to the ball like a flash and with no more than a stump and a bit to aim at from 20 yards, shied and hit, Maddinson stranded well short.
This dismissal set the tone for the morning as Tring slumped to 4-3, Michael Roberts taking a two-handed catch diving low to his right off Matt Carter who then beat Dixon for pace with a yorker.
Pritchard and Payne tried to consolidate but Mordt made the inspired choice of replacing Carter with himself to remove Pritchard first ball making it 31-4.
Payne was the next to go, trying to cut Tahir Afridi, but only finding David Barnes at third slip for another exceptional slip catch, this time two handed and high to his right. Deal joined Tomlinson and soon became the third slip catch of the day, this time Ben McDermott doing the honours diving to his right. At 62-6 at lunch Tring were imploding. After lunch it was the spin and guile of Gurveer Singh that saw off the Tring innings though the shot selection of Criddle, Wilson and Fraser left a lot to be desired. Only Tomlinson had shown any durability with 34 runs to his credit, but that was ended 35 minutes after lunch when he looped a Singh delivery to Roberts at second slip.
Tring were disappointing and missing Dutch and Helm, but that is to take nothing away from a bowling performance which put the visitors under huge pressure from the start with successive maiden overs during the first 15 overs which netted just 31 runs.
Afridi and Carter were immense, the former doing what he always does and the latter in form and injury free, showing what a prospect he is in the making.
In reply, it was all over by 3.30pm as Henley made light work of the chase, knocking off the total which Tring had struggled to in 44 overs in just 19.
Skipper Mordt sent Carter in to open with Barnes to take on Stanway which he duly did to great effect, one six disappearing in the direction of Wargrave that was still going up as it cleared the trees on Remenham Hill. Soon after Carter was deceived by a slower ball from Stanway and caught at mid off and Barnes nudged Criddle to Dixon at back pad. However, that was it as Roberts and McDermott pummelled Tring into submission in short order with a pleasing array of boundaries along the way. Henley enter the final run in to the Home Counties Premier League Division 1 in pole position with a 19 point lead with four matches remaining.
By ROBERT MacLEISH
R Pritchard, lbw, b Mordt 12
D Maddinson, run out 0
W Jones, c Roberts, b Carter 1
A Dixon, b Carter 0
M Payne, c Barnes, b Afridi 22
L Tomlinson, c Roberts, b Singh 34
J Deal, c McDermott, b Carter 8
R Criddle, c Carter, b Singh 1
R Wilson, b Afridi 2
D Fraser, c Afridi, b Singh 14
S Stanway, not out 0
• Best bowling: M Carter 3-9, G Singh 3-22, T Afridi 2-53.
D Barnes, c Dixon, b Criddle 32
M Carter, c Deal, b Stanway 19
M Roberts, not out 27
B McDermott, not out 26
TOTAL (2 wkts) 105