DESPITE setting their visitors a modest total to chase, the READING batsmen proved unequal to the task and
DESPITE setting their visitors a modest total to chase, the READING batsmen proved unequal to the task and HENLEY emerged winners by some distance from Saturday’s Home Counties Premier League clash which, at times, they made heavy weather of.
However, 25 valuable points, and with Finchampstead and Banbury both winning, it is as you were at the top of Division 1.
Winning the toss on what was a hot sunny day, Henley skipper Michael Roberts elected to bat and opened the batting with Matt Rowe.
Batting proved a bit of a struggle in the face of a decent seam attack in the form of Jack Beaven and Middlesex’s Martin Andersson. Roberts was first to go, bowled by an Andersson Yorker with the score on 22.
By the time the score had crawled to 66 in the 22nd over, Henley, were four down, Woods caught behind, Rowe also caught skying the ball to cover, and Zia Ashraf unable to keep out a Yorker from Beavan.
Despite the absence of Richard Morris owing to illness, Dave Allaway and Stewart Davison were on hand to avert a collapse, stop the rot, consolidate and put on 101 for the next wicket.
Whilst there was little doubt that Reading had the better of the morning session (103-4), the visitors were unable to press home the advantage after lunch as Allaway held firm at one end, so allowing Davison to play increasingly expansively when the opportunity arose.
A large proportion of their runs came as singles interspersed with the odd boundary and a six from Davison over midwicket. Just after drinks in the 49th over, Davison could not resist a full toss which he failed to middle and so perished, caught at long-on, 30 shy of a century.
With Davison gone, wickets fell with regularity. Euan Brock and Bjorn Mordt were both lbw to Beavan. Tom Nugent showed some nice flourishes before getting bowled and Gurveer Singh played a cameo innings that included a pair of boundaries though mid-wicket and third man before Nigel Dunstan was caught behind to bring the innings to a close in the 61st over.
Beaven and Andersson, who between them bowled 38 overs, shared the spoils, ending with four wickets each and there was one apiece for spinners Malik and Gemmill. Though their fielding was generally good, Reading could look back on rather too many catches not taken which did the eventual Henley total no harm.
In reply, Reading openers Chima and Ali made a spirited start until Nugent drew first blood in the eighth over as Chima was adjudged lbw, soon followed by a run out of Ali from midwicket, courtesy of a superb pick up and diving throw by Allaway to make it 31-2.
Once again the introduction of spin in the form of Singh would prove a game changer, Andersson, Reading’s best batsman, smartly snapped up at slip by the diving Nugent off the last delivery of Singh’s first over. Just before tea Nugent had Gemmill caught behind for a duck and as the players headed into tea with Reading on 50-4, Henley had at last wrested the initiative from their visitors. Soon after tea Nugent tempted Zaka to have yet another swing at a bouncer which, this time, he only succeeded in gloving to keeper Davison.
Dosanth was next to go, bemused to have been caught at slip off a ball he was pretty certain he had not made contact with. Beaven set about Singh, who had Amjad caught at slip by Nugent in a carbon copy of the earlier Andersson dismissal. That made it 103-7 which soon became 110-8 as Woods took a diving catch at deep midwicket to remove Ahmed and followed that up with a better one at cover, flying through the air goalkeeper style to remove Reading skipper Malik with Dishington the last to go following some more spirited resistance by him and Beaven.