Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Banbury put end to league leader’s unbeaten record

HENLEY’S unbeaten Home Counties Premier Division 1 record — that dated back to June last year — came to an

HENLEY’S unbeaten Home Counties Premier Division 1 record — that dated back to June last year — came to an end at second-placed BANBURY on Saturday where the league leaders were outplayed.

Winning the toss, Henley skipper Bjorn Mordt elected to bat on what was a slow, dry and dusty wicket.

Progress was initially slow due to Banbury’s opening bowlers, Barends and Blanchard, who kept things tight and probed the right areas.

Michael Roberts and Dave Barnes played themselves in but the combination of distant lateral boundaries and sharp fielding made for a quiet start which was enlivened when umpire Andy Grose was struck over the eye by a returning ball that ricocheted off Barnes’ bat.

After initial first aid at the ground courtesy of Eric Davison, the umpire had to take a trip to hospital, but patched up returned to stand later in the day.

This episode apart, the boundaries began to come only for Barnes to be bowled by Blanchard, bringing Hamza Riazuddin to the middle.

The Hampshire duo put on 33 for the next wicket before Roberts went for the big hit over the midwicket boundary off Barends, only to pick out West who took a tumbling catch.

The score of 61-2 became 61-3 when Cameron Boyce was out fourth ball, bowled Barends and at 62-3 at lunch, the morning belonged to Banbury.

After lunch Dave Allaway and Riazuddin pushed on, only for Riazuddin, having struck West back over his head for six, to go down the track to the same bowler and be stumped.

Aware of the need to accelerate the score, Mordt strode to the crease and both he and Allaway adopted a markedly more aggressive approach before Ryan, making a belated appearance as a bowler, had Allaway stumped. Jason Barber now joined Mordt.

Barber holed out to Wright at mid-on off Barends for 12 to leave Henley on 135-6 off 47 overs. Mordt and Ferguson worked hard to up the ante but it was not easy and became harder still when Mordt was adjudged run out by returning umpire Grose, despite having appeared by many to have made his ground.

Mordt’s departure was to prove a major turning point because though Ferguson was the last man out for a worthy 32, with the exception of Gurveer Singh, whose cameo 9 made batting look easy, there was little support elsewhere as Henley ended on 202 in 65.3 overs.

Following a sluggish start during which Tahir Afridi bowled Haupt and Riazuddin kept things tight, a few no-balls apart, Banbury motored towards the total. Spin looked to be the answer for a while as Singh removed Sabin and Tew lbw, and Boyce serially beat the bat without success.

But Tew, then Hawkes then Cater went after both spinners and batted them both out of the attack, accelerating as the required total hove in sight. Afridi returned to remove the free scoring Hawkes thanks to a fine catch by Barber at deep backward square leg, but by then it was too late and Cater saw his side home.

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