Roberts dominates as league leaders have edge in close encounter
OPENING batsman Michael Roberts hit a match-winning innings of 129 that included 20 fours and two sixes to help HENLEY
OPENING batsman Michael Roberts hit a match-winning innings of 129 that included 20 fours and two sixes to help HENLEY triumph in a close Home Counties Premier League Division 1 encounter at NORTH MYMMS on Saturday.
When the dust had settled, Henley were winners by two wickets thanks to an outstanding knock by opener Michael Roberts who batted through the Henley innings undefeated, scoring 129 off 145 balls, including 20 fours and two sixes.
Not for the first time this year, the weather forecasters got it wrong. Rain was supposed to engulf North Mymms by 10am, become torrential by 1pm and set in for the rest of the day. As it happened, the rain made a brief but light appearance at tea and arrived in torrential force around 8pm, a while after the end of what turned out to be a gripping encounter.
On a warm sunny morning, Henley skipper Bjorn Mordt won the toss and elected to field first. Tahir Afridi and Hamza Riazuddin soon had the batsmen pinned down.
North Mymms’ South African overseas player, Johnston, was an early casualty caught behind off Afridi. Snell, fortunate to be dropped by Gurveer Singh at mid-off, and Qayyum both struggled as Riazuddin shaped the ball this way and that, eventually giving away just 19 runs in 10 overs.
After 15 overs the hosts had just 34 runs to show for their efforts. Following drinks, Tom Nugent replaced Riazuddin and removed Qayyum with his first ball, a widish loosener, which the batsman wafted to Mordt at slip. Snell soon followed, caught by Roberts in the slips at ankle height and when Jeyaratnam was caught behind off Nugent, North Mymms were wobbling on 34-4.
The incoming Mymms skipper Lewis capitalised on some short wide bowling from Nugent but the wickets continued to tumble, Carter caught behind off Mordt and Stewart caught in the gully by Dave Barnes off Nugent. At lunch North Mymms were on 89-6.
The first hour after lunch belonged to the hosts as Lewis and Bamford counterattacked as Henley’s bowling was lacklustre at times.
Cameron Boyce was sometimes too short while Mordt’s medium pace was being dispatched with ease. A change in bowlers saw Singh trapped Bamford lbw to end an 84 run partnership. However, 89 had become 162 and Lewis was not finished. Mordt rang the changes, Riazuddin and Nugent returned, Boyce changed ends, but Lewis kept plundering runs and when Afridi finally bowled him, Lewis had scored 92, and North Mymms were 219 runs to the good. Had Lewis not rather given away his wicket, missing the ball with an injudicious swipe, it might have been more.
The last couple of wickets fell to Mordt without any improvement to the score leaving Henley to get 220 in 64 overs.
Roberts started as he meant to go on taking 14 off Mehta’s first over including a towering pulled six over mid-wicket as Mehta made the mistake of bowling short to him.
Roberts brought up his half century with the same shot, but by then, Henley were three down, Barnes caught at slip off a ball that reared off the pitch and cramped him up, Riazuddin caught behind after another measured innings and Boyce cleaned up by Johnston.
All the while, the wind was getting up and the cloud thickening. A change in the weather was imminent and with news of rain showers, some heavy all around, a light shower arrived just in time for tea (89-3) which was enough for the covers to go on and Henley to lose four overs from their available 64.
With Roberts in commanding form on both sides of the wicket and down the ground, almost all his runs coming on front of square, the number of overs was academic.
However, he was beginning to run out of partners, particularly following Mymms’ belated introduction of spin in the form of Qayyum, leading wicket taker in Division 2 East last season.
Stewart Davison was caught at mid-off to a catch by Snell leaping backwards, Jason Barber was caught and bowled by Qayyum who then bowled Mordt whilst Ferguson was caught at gully by a diving Snell off the bowing of Mehta who was much more effective with the older ball.
The score of 192-7 became 193-8 as Afridi was caught at slip for a duck. North Mymms scented an unlikely scalp and suddenly Henley had a mountain to climb.
The runs dried up, as the hosts fielded well and strove to keep Nugent on strike. But Nugent kept his cool under pressure and with Roberts shepherding the strike, managing the innings and facing the lion’s share of spin and neither batsman playing rashly, a near run out apart, the required runs began to tick down.
A streaky four through the slips off Nugent did the cause no harm and Roberts continued to find the boundary off Mehta. With dusk falling and the scores tied, Roberts drove the ball back past bowler Johnston for four to the relief of his team mates and travelling supporters.
H Qayyum, c B Mordt, b T Nugent 9
J Johnston, c T Ferguson, b T Afridi 8
S Snell, c M Roberts, b T Afridi 12
N Jeyaratnam, c T Ferguson,
b T Nugent 0
A Lewis, b T Afridi 92
R Carter, c T Ferguson, b B Mordt 5
C Stewart, c D Barnes, b T Nugent 13
N Bamford, lbw, b G Singh 45
R Wynne, c S Davison, b B Mordt 11
J Mehta, not out 0
J Bryceland, lbw, b B Mordt 0
Best bowling: T Nugent 3-38, B Mordt 3-43, T Afridi 3-48.