Sunday, 07 August 2022

Lacklustre performance leaves Henley pointless

Lacklustre performance leaves Henley pointless

AN abysmal showing by HENLEY at BANBURY on Saturday got its just deserts, a 10-wicket thumping and not a losing bonus point in sight.

The result sent Henley back to sixth place in Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League, a point ahead of Slough and 33 adrift of new leaders, Wokingham, who rolled over Oxford as High Wycombe and Datchet cancelled each other out in a drawn game.

Even allowing for inconsistency across all the teams ahead of them and the fact that to date, Henley have lost no more games (three) than the top four, barring miracles, the prospect of winning the league this season is remote.

So to Banbury, always a bit of a curate’s egg of a fixture, weather, the state of the wicket, and a mercurial home side all potential factors in an uncertain equation.

Overnight it had rained but the covers were not on and although they were put on around dawn, the damage was done and whoever won the toss and fielded first had a considerable advantage.

Tom Nugent’s impeccable record of winning the toss ended and Henley were batting. Absent of covid victim Archie Carter, Mike Williams, playing his first game of the season, opened with Johnny Connell.

A dearth of practice and game time seemed to trouble Williams not a bit to judge from a couple of crisp boundaries and Banbury’s experiment of opening the bowling with wayward Kieran Coyne soon ended.

Connell lasted just nine balls before shouldering arms and paying the price. Gun player Jack Davies and Williams continued to find the boundary before an attempted run two on his call off a push to square leg ended Davies’s day with the bat and Henley were 23-2.

By drinks, just after midday, Henley had moved on to 52-2, so there was not that much wrong with the deck, and a further 50 runs before lunch without loss would have seen the morning belong to the visitors, but this was not to be.

At this point, one would like to say that the Banbury seamers had other ideas, except they did not. They bowled adequately and aimed at the stumps, and maybe the deck did a little bit, but they were hardly a handful.

Williams was gone almost immediately after the restart, and with the honourable exception of Matt Rowe, disappointed by his lbw decision, the rest of the Henley batting was an essay in swinging and missing, a regulation catch to mid-on (Brock) and another shouldering of arms (Adam Searle), of a lack of focus and application. The score of 77-8 at lunch soon became 89 all out.

The old mantra about chasing low scores never materialised and with no early wickets to create pressure, skipper Lloyd Sabin and fellow opener, Richard Simpson, strolled serenely to the win in 14.1 overs, 60 of the 90 runs coming off boundaries.

With the wind rising under a cloudy sky, the match was all over by 2.50pm.

With a third of the season left, and a lot of cricket to be played, an assessment of the 2022 campaign and what needs to be done must await another day. True, Carter and Mike Roberts were absent, and the bowling has performed pretty well to date this season, but a wider entropy prevails and the need for action is clear.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Henley entertain Slough.

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