Friday, 22 October 2021

Superior firepower proves decisive

HENLEY brought the curtain down on a summer of cricket as runners-up to OXFORD in the Wilf Bennet Cup, Oxfordshire Cricket’s Twenty20 plate competition at Wormsley on Saturday, writes Jonathan Higgins.

The match was something of a mismatch. Throughout the competition, Henley have fielded a side made up of second and third team players and the final was no exception. By contrast Oxford fielded six first team regulars including their experienced captain, the former Pakistan first class and international Muhammad Ayub.

Winning the toss, Oxford elected to field. Amjal Safi never settled and was an early casualty, but fellow opener Liam Hilditch and second team skipper Charlie Homewood warmed to the task before Hamid struck in the seventh over to remove first Homewood and then the incoming Seale for a duck, both caught in the gully by Whinfrey.

The first ball of the next over claimed the wicket of Hilditch and Henley were 39-4. Nathan Hopkins was now joined skipper Adam Lubbock, and in the most fruitful phase of the innings, propelled their side to a defendable total.

Both played with a degree of panache, Hopkins scoring 26 off 21 balls (five fours) and Lubbock hitting 41 off 31 balls (one four, four sixes).

Wickets continued to fall and Henley were all out for 130 with two balls of the 20 overs to go, last man out being Andy Chappell, a late call-up in place of Freddy Loveland.

The Oxford innings started brightly with the dangerous Tait caught behind off seamer Myren Gericke in his first over. Had the incoming Ayub been caught in the deep when on 10, the outcome might have been different. However, the chance was spilled, Ayub had his life and proceeded to capitalise to the full (68 off 48 balls, nine fours, two sixes) on his good fortune.

Ayub was in a different league and, one missed chance apart, the Henley bowling just could not put a glove on him, the ball accelerating past or away from the fielders over the lightening-quick surface all too often.

At the other end, teenager Barney Carey (53 off 45 balls, five fours, two sixes) more than complimented his skipper, rounding off proceedings with a six over wide mid-wicket off Felix Watson-Smyth to complete a nine-wicket victory.

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