HENLEY’S lead at the top of Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League was cut
HENLEY’S lead at the top of Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League was cut to 21 points last Saturday as they suffered their first defeat of the campaign against title rivals HIGH WYCOMBE.
Henley often struggle at Wycombe’s London Road ground, and more so when they lose the toss on a wicket and outfield that often favours a run-chase.
Put in to bat in overcast conditions, Henley started well but in the end left themselves well short on a pitch crying out for a score of 300-plus.
Roberts and Barnes dealt well with the seam attack from Sawyer and Duncan, benefiting from the absence from injury of Wycombe’s leading bowler James Benning.
For the first 10 overs they put on a 50 partnership with a constant supply of fours, typically for this ground to the short boundary down the hill. Sawyer’s sixth over produced a wicket maiden as he drew Barnes into edging to slip for 11.
Matt Rowe came in at number three and the left hander looked comfortable with Roberts, though Wycombe did pull back the run rate, with Duncan nagging away from the far end for an astonishing 21 consecutive overs.
His last ball of the inning’s 13th over created the first of Henley’s major mishaps when Roberts, on 55, was tempted to run as mid-off fumbled his shot, set off but was sent back and was stranded as the throw unerringly found the keeper.
At this stage Henley were 94-2 with plenty of time but the match turned when Kyle Simmonds was introduced from the pavilion end in the last over before lunch. With the score on 113, Ashraf glanced to leg, Rowe on 43 called a run only to be sent back and failed to make his ground, beaten by a direct throw.
Debutant Bazley looked decent before edging one to the keeper that Simmonds got to bounce while Allaway fell the same way, this time to Dobb at the other end.
Worse was to follow as Mordt perished first ball, bowled to one that turned sharply, and Henley were now struggling on 179-6 in the 50th over. Ashraf stuck around for a 78-ball 58, before trying to replicate a leg-side sweep but falling lbw to Simmonds.
The tail gamely tried to post a defendable total but all fell to catches, two on the boundary, and Henley failed to use up their allocated 64 overs as they finished on 220 all out in the 62nd.
Wycombe’s reply got off to a faltering start as both their openers, Hose and Baker, fell cheaply to catches, a juggle by Mordt at slip and an impressive dive by Singh at mid-off respectively. Afridi and Nugent shared these wickets and, whilst swing was not evident, Nugent in particular was producing an excellent aggressive spell, soon having Dobb trapped lbw.
In bright sunshine spin was introduced in the 11th over and, in Ashraf’s first, Russell lobbed a straightforward catch to Barnes at mid-off. With Wycombe now at 64-4 after only 16 overs, Henley were in the game.
Inescapably, however, batting seemed to be getting much easier, Henley started leaking byes and all scoring shots started to find the boundary, sometimes in clusters, as bowling became an unrewarding business.
In large measure the architect was the home captain, Nathan Hawkes. Batting at four he introduced himself with a boundary down the slope and played a masterly innings, hitting 19 fours in all during a run-a-ball innings of 112 not out. He was ably assisted by Sawyer and Duncan who went for their shots as Henley’s chance slipped away, both quickly passing 30 runs with a good sprinkling of boundaries.