Sunday, 25 July 2021

Roberts and Davies pile on runs to maintain pressure at the top

HENLEY chalked up a straightforward home win against bottom-of-the-table HAREFIELD on Saturday, limiting the visitors

HENLEY chalked up a straightforward home win against bottom-of-the-table HAREFIELD on Saturday, limiting the visitors to 175 runs and chasing that total down for the loss of just one wicket.

On a hot summer’s day the visitors won the toss and elected to bat and it was not long before Tidey was on the way back to the pavilion given out lbw to Tom Nugent.

For a while fellow opener Ogden and the incoming Friend were becalmed but gradually found a way to get the scoreboard ticking in the face of some fine bowling, particularly from Tahir Afridi who was unlucky not to take a wicket.

Friend’s positive approach ended in the 13th over when he went to pull a Nugent delivery which he could only sky to Zia Ashraf at shortish midwicket. But Ogden and the incoming Richards put on 31 for the next wicket before the burly Ogden — 31 of his 33 runs coming in boundaries — was smartly taken low down at second slip by Henley skipper Michael Roberts off Nugent, now operating from the Remenham Hill end.

Initially rather circumspect, particularly against Afridi, Richards played himself in and was not afraid to take on Gurveer Singh. With Norotham coming to the party, Harefield began to look increasingly solid and deserved to be 87-3 at lunch.

Afridi, and later Nugent, returned after lunch but the boundaries kept coming as Norotham put a dent in Afridi’s figures with two fours and a six in the bowler’s last over.

Richards brought up his 50 with a couple of stylish boundaries backward of square leg and through mid-wicket and looked set to push on.

It was with a degree of relief when Singh made the breakthrough to remove Richards lbw to make it 136-4 in the 43rd over. After this dismissal Harefield fell apart, losing the next six wickets for just 39 runs in only 11 overs.

Norotham was snapped up at slip by Bjorn Mordt for Singh’s second victim. Singh was then the fielder at long off who juggled but held on to a catch to remove Petley off Woods who soon accounted for King, athletically taken at slip by Nugent with a reaction catch.

The incoming O’Sullivan survived a huge appeal for caught behind and did his best to keep up the scoring momentum but Morris was victim number three for Singh, caught and bowled, and O’Sullivan became victim number four, lbw, whilst Matt Rowe removed McLeod with the first ball of his only over.

Singh ended up with the most wickets on a day when there was little turn to extract but certain Harefield batsmen anticipated turn and paid the price.

In reply Henley openers Rowe and Jack Davies made a cautious start and there were just 27 runs on the board by the 18th over when Rowe was adjudged lbw. This would prove Harefield’s only success in the field as Davies was now joined by his skipper Roberts.

Between them and in front of a large crowd that included Australian bowling legend Shaun Tait and the Mayor of Henley, the pair put on a masterclass in occupying the crease, accumulation and shot selection.

Davies was fortunate to survive a near run out and was later lucky to avoid being caught and bowled by O’Sullivan who juggled impressively with the ball but just could not hold on to it.

By tea Henley were 99-1, Roberts on 30 and Davies having brought up his half century.

After tea Roberts took the lead and accelerated through the gears scoring all around the ground but running plenty of singles and twos with the ever alert and speedy Davies who helped himself to an impressive array of boundaries, especially when he let his timing do the talking. It fell to Davies to close out the innings with a couple of boundaries and with ample overs to spare.

Not since 2007, when Roberts opened the batting for Henley, has a player as young as Davies occupied that role and he certainly looked and played the part. Speaking after the game skipper Roberts said: “I am really pleased with our performance on the whole today, especially after a disappointing Saturday last week at Slough.

“We were good with the ball, especially Tahir, Tom and Gurveer, although there is still room for improvement in the field with a few catches going down.

“Then with the bat, we were really clinical and it was great to see Jack contribute well, not that it was a surprise to anyone who knows him.

“He is mature beyond his years and anchored the innings superbly, combined with some great stroke play.”

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