Saturday, 19 June 2021

Henley miss chance to top table

IN yet another weather-affected game, Henley had to settle for a rather frustrating draw against a

IN yet another weather-affected game, Henley had to settle for a rather frustrating draw against a Tring side that was never in the hunt in terms of a win but managed to hold out nine wickets down.

Winning the toss for a change, Henley elected to bat and found themselves 17-2 after just 11 overs as Stanway’s medium-paced wobblers accounted for Henley skipper Michael Roberts, lbw to a shortish ball that kept low, on the slow and low strip, and Euan Brock, in for an injured Dave Barnes, caught behind.

But after that, it was all Henley as Matt Rowe and Richard Morris gradually upped the scoring rate and then completely dominated an underwhelming Tring attack, mainly spin, which was not assisted by some rather average fielding.

Yet another century for Morris, and Rowe’s first century for Henley, were a joy to watch as both batsmen demonstrated a full range of powerful shots to all parts of the ground, much of it directed over and past the bowlers and over the boundary rope.

Rowe was somewhat fortunate not to be caught just shy of 50 but celebrated the reprieve with successive swept sixes off Payne. By lunch, the pair had motored to 144 off 37 overs. A sharp and chilly shower then intervened to reduce Henley’s available overs to 62.

Post lunch, with the field spread, the pair marched on exploiting an increasingly spread field and regularly despatching a steady supply of mediocre deliveries to and over the boundary.

Rowe moved decisively towards three figures with four down the ground and brought it up with a four though wide long off. His final six took Henley past 200 before another missed catch was followed by one that stuck at deep cover to give him 111 off 162 balls, including nine fours and four sixes.

By now, Morris was nearing his own century which was not long in coming. Once again, Zia Ashraf was soon on the money with a quickfire 18 off 16 balls. In the meantime, Morris finally holed out for 117 off 111 balls.

Although Euan Woods was an lbw victim like Ashraf, Tom Nugent and Stewart Davison added a strident 29 between them to take Henley to 300 and maximum batting points.

Skipper Roberts declared and, despite rain, Tring started their reply with 55 overs to chase down 301, later reduced to 54 overs after another stinging shower at tea.

In the event, Tring were never really in the hunt and after tea, their innings became an essay in survival which was ultimately successful, but not before Henley had taken themselves to the brink of victory with just one wicket to get in 10 overs. Aussie Ben Abbott and skipper Pritchard apart, no Tring player made it to double figures although Payne, who might have made a difference had he had the chance, could feel justifiably aggrieved at being run out by his partner Abbott.

That made it 33-3 before Tahir Afridi had Gaur caught at slip by Bjorn Mordt and bowled Darraugh next ball to make it 66-5 which brought Pritchard to the crease. By now, Abbott was classily past 50 but riding his luck as Afridi serially beat his bat. Prichard got off to an uncertain and rather streaky start but gradually got his eye in.

Crucially dropped early on, Pritchard settled in and he and Abbott looked increasingly comfortable until the latter was adjudged lbw to Ashraf, much to the batsman’s profound disappointment.

Henley scented blood. Nugent steamed in flat out and fielders surrounded the bat as Ashraf delivered flighted spin. Ashraf accounted for Criddle lbw and had Shearman brilliantly caught by Nugent at slip. But Prichard proved increasingly durable and brought up his 50 only for Seagrave to be trapped lbw by Gurveer Singh to make it 145-9.

Surely the end was nigh with just Stanway to come and 60 balls to go. But it was not to be. Stanway may be in the team for his bowling, but he is a cricketer of vast experience with just the temperament for such a situation. Facing 29 balls, he scored one run and blocked the other 28.

Roberts gave Woods a couple of goes, brought back Singh and Afridi and persisted with Nugent but in truth, the batsmen looked increasingly untroubled with whatever they were presented with, a couple of chances went begging and that was that, Pritchard ending on an unbeaten 69 from 152 balls.

Short of winning, Henley did just about everything else and ended with maximum points for a draw (17) but not the extra eight that would have taken them to the top of Division 1.

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