Sunday, 13 June 2021

Woods knock the highlight as visitors left frustrated

HENLEY emerged from last Saturday’s Home Counties Premier League Division 1 clash at SLOUGH with a

HENLEY emerged from last Saturday’s Home Counties Premier League Division 1 clash at SLOUGH with a draw.

The result was fairly comfortably achieved despite a difficult start to their innings, but for which victory could have been there for the taking.

Winning the toss on an overcast and muggy morning, and presented with damp track, the choice by Henley skipper Michael Roberts to field was pretty straightforward.

Feroz Baig and Nabil Shah opened the batting for Slough. Tahir Afridi, returning from injury, was soon on the money trapping Shah lbw. Baig had clearly decided that the way to play Tom Nugent, operating at pace from the Pavilion End, was to throw his bat at everything, but following a quartet of streaky fours, he was not long in locating Euan Woods at gully to make it 26-2 which became 44-3 as Waqas Hussein was caught behind to make it wicket number two for Afridi.

That brought Paternott to the crease to join Yousaf and not for the first time this season, the pair proved to be the bedrock of Slough’s innings, surviving a fair few appeals and putting on 104 for the fourth wicket when Paternott spooned a Singh delivery to Richard Morris at short extra cover.

Skipper for the day Shaan Khan joined Yousaf and carried on the good work. Another century against Henley beckoned for Yousaf until a Zia Ashraf delivery stopped on him. Yousaf was through the shot too early and could only parry the ball to Morris at short midwicket. Slowly but surely, the Slough innings unravelled.

Rana went to work the ball to leg and only found Stewart Davison’s gloves. Six down for 198 with 14 overs left, Slough found themselves needing to push on but with few wickets left. The pressure told as Jahngir Zaman went for a third run and found himself at the same end as his skipper whist a bullet return from Afridi from long-on was collected at the other end by Woods who removed the bails.

Khan had meanwhile brought up his half century only to be stumped off Matt Rowe’s solitary over. Nawaz was run out in almost identical fashion to Jahngir Zaman and Akbar was bowled by Afridi leaving Raheel Zaman marooned on 19 which had included a couple of sixes. A total of 255 was not bad return as Henley had picked up an extra over having dismissed Slough in 63 overs.

The Henley innings could hardly have started in worse fashion as the visitors found themselves three wickets down with no runs on the board in the fourth over as Jack Davey was caught down the leg side, Rowe played on and Roberts was adjudged lbw.

Both opening bowlers Khan and Nawaz, an old hand of unrivalled experience and economy, were in a class of their own as Morris and Ashraf clawed their way out of the mire. Nawaz serially beat the bat, moving the ball both ways and assisted by the overcast and humid conditions.

Ashraf walked into an lbw to make it 16-4 but Davison and Morris held firm to make it 53-4 at tea, though any notion of winning the game had long since disappeared and survival was very much the name of the game as it has been from very early on.

After tea, Davison took the game to Slough, searching out the boundary with regularity whilst Morris played an uncharacteristic but nonetheless impressively conservative innings until he chased Nawaz’s worst delivery of the day only to find Hussein in the gully. Both he and Davison had done much to take the sting out of the Slough attack.

By now the sun was out and the wicket was flattening out and becoming far less bowler-friendly. Woods survived a big appeal for caught at slip, the umpires deciding that the ball had not carried and then proceeded to produce his highest score to date for Henley with an innings of timing, elegant stroke play and power.

Davison perished going down the track to Yousaf but by now Slough had gone off the boil and seemed increasingly resigned to a drawn game. Bjorn Mordt, playing at just the right tempo, and Woods capitalised on the lethargy and motored on, Woods almost taking his side to another batting point but perishing in the process. Nugent had but one ball to face as the clock ticked past 7.30pm at the end of the 57th over, Slough having taken a long time to bowl their overs.

Considering the start to the innings, the outcome could have been a lot worse, but the progress after the tea interval only went to show what could have been achieved off a more positive platform.

Speaking after the game Henley captain Roberts was nonetheless upbeat. He said: “It was a really frustrating day for us but one which has also offered a lot of positives to move forward with. Nugent and Afridi were top draw at the top of the attack for us today and although a few chances went down, 250 was very achievable.

“Unfortunately we found ourselves three down having not done a great deal wrong and it was obviously a real challenge from then on. Nonetheless we showed good character and resilience in getting close to 200. It was great to see Woodsie play as well as he did, although it also showcased how the chase could have gone with a better start.”

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