Sunday, 13 June 2021

Henley outto confirm runners-up position

IN a blink of an eye, the season is almost over.

IN a blink of an eye, the season is almost over.

It seems only yesterday that Henley were facing Great & Little Tew in the first game of the season and now September and the first hints of autumn beckon.

Now, week 18 is here and tomorrow (Saturday) Henley entertain Tring Park at the Brakspear Ground (11am start).

Currently on 210 points, Tring are destined for mid-table respectability and security in a season which has shown some improvement over 2015 when they narrowly escaped relegation on the last day of the season by a point.

They beat Horspath who were relegated but will return to Division 1 in 2017 as Division 2 Champions.

In the corresponding fixture over at Tring in July, Henley came as close as they could to victory but had to settle for a draw after failing to take the last Tring wicket, having set the home side a total of 301 for victory.

In the event, Tring never got close and ended the game hanging on at 161-9. This was on a day when Matt Rowe and Richard Morris both posted centuries and Tahir Afridi and Zia Ashraf took three wickets apiece.

The form book and recent wins against Banbury and High Wycombe would suggest that Henley are favourites to win this weekend and cement the runners-up spot in Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League, a position that became more likely following last weekend when bad weather in the Cherwell Valley put paid to Banbury’s game against Reading.

As a result, Henley are now 16 points clear of Banbury and need just five points to make certain that they end the season in second spot behind Finchampstead whose victory at home to Slough put their first Championship since 2001 beyond any doubt.

The result brought an end to an eight-year domination by Henley and High Wycombe in equal measure which can only be a good thing for the competition going forward and will hopefully spur on other sides to progress.

Finch are also the first side to have won the Championship in the season immediately following their promotion which perhaps says something about the current state and standard of cricket in Division 1 as much as anything else.

At the other end of the table, Reading and Harefield are relegated though there was a silver lining for Harefield as they chalked up their first win of the season at Burnham.

The result may inspire them to greater heights this weekend when Finch are the visitors to the Woods Cricket Ground, a delightful venue which will be sadly missed by the Henley faithful next season.

Elsewhere, Henley 2nds, champions of Division 2B of the Thames Valley League, take on the once mighty Beaconsfield at Wilton Park, while the 3rds are at home to Theale & Tilehurst at Nettlebed Cricket Club.

Meanwhile, the 4ths face a relegation shoot-out away to Bracknell 2nds. All the Thames Valley games begin at 12.30pm.

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