HENLEY dominated High Wycombe with ball and then bat to secure a seven wicket victory over
HENLEY dominated High Wycombe with ball and then bat to secure a seven wicket victory over a home side that struggled to compete and was lacking in their usual degree of execution, determination and spirit normally associated with their cricket.
Having won the toss on an overcast and gloomy morning with rain in prospect, High Wycombe decided to bat on what was, for London Road, a very dry wicket indeed.
Seven legitimate deliveries in, opener Gavin Baker was making his way back to the pavilion having been comprehensively bowled by Tahir Afridi.
Fellow opener Davson and the incoming Owen made some progress until spinner Cameron Jacobsen came on to bowl and was soon extracting turn and substantial bounce.
More importantly, he was exerting control over the batsmen, nipping out Davson, skying to keeper Stewart Davison, and then Owen who would have been disappointed by a rather limp waft to midwicket.
Skipper Nathan Hawkes lasted but 10 balls and five runs before middling an Afridi delivery straight to Jack Davies at square leg.
With Zia Ashraf replacing a bowled out Afridi, and Gurveer Singh following Jacobsen, Henley were able to exert almost total control through spin as Haynes and Russell were forced to graft for their runs, just 64 runs coming between overs 21 and 43 when Haynes was out caught for Singh’s sole wicket, a poor reward for some excellent miserly bowling.
Back came Jacobsen with three overs left to finally end Russell’s resistance, smartly caught by Richard Morris low down at cover.
Jacobsen would bowl Duncan and Amjaid to end with outstanding figures of 10 overs, two maidens, 5-25, but not before Duncan and Parsons had capitalised on a rather wayward second four over spell from Nugent which contributed 43 runs to the Wycombe total and rather put a dent in all the good work by the spin department.
At half distance, the concern was whether Wycombe had the spinners to exploit the conditions and whether 197 was too big an ask on such a wicket.
In the event, the substantial Henley travelling support need not have worried on either count as Matt Rowe and Jack Davies totally dominated the Wycombe bowling for an opening stand of 145.
Both were purposeful from the off, rotating the strike and running hard in increasingly gloomy conditions with the odd spot of rain in the air.
Rowe was quicker out of the blocks and complemented the run ones and twos with some stylish big hitting, though he could count himself extremely fortunate when a dolly of catch at point in the 11th over went begging.
But Davies gradually caught him up as he took leg spinner Amjaid apart, waiting on the back foot and carving him over midwicket and meting out similar treatment to the medium pace of the experienced Duncan and under 16 spinner Haddow.
By the time he was out, caught at mid-on in the 33rd over, he had overtaken Rowe by four runs. Their stand was an exhibition of un-showy, efficient batting and Wycombe had patently long since abandoned any notion of winning the game.
Haddow picked up two more wickets of Rowe and Morris, both stumped going down the track, but Henley skipper Michael Roberts steered his side towards victory, driving Duncan square of the wicket and through backward point and cover and hitting Amjaid over mid off for boundaries.
Requiring three runs off the remaining 24 balls, the game played out rather comically and slightly tensely as Ashraf then Roberts faced maiden overs from Parsons and Amjaid to make it three runs required off 12 balls.
It was Ashraf who finally made sure that defeat would not after all be snatched from the jaws of victory by squaring up the scores with a run two and then nudging four though fine leg for the winning runs.
In the end then, an easy and perhaps slightly too leisurely win at High Wycombe — a rare state of affairs, though Wycombe can point to the fact that their opening bowlers are both Under 19s, Haddow is an under 16 and Burden and Amjaid are still in the first flush of youth.
That said, facing them was a 16-year-old Davies who, in a handful of games, has come to look like a seasoned performer and has scored the runs to match.