Monday, 21 June 2021

Big-hitting Bazley puts side on track to complete double

HENLEY eased away from their closest rivals at the top of the Home Counties Premier League

HENLEY eased away from their closest rivals at the top of the Home Counties Premier League last Saturday, beating BANBURY by three wickets in a tense match in which the bowlers were mostly on top.

Banbury won the toss and decided to bat, and for the first half dozen overs Australian Tim Paine seemed focused on their plan to build a total they could defend.

The next three overs would change all that as Afridi and Nugent bagged two wickets each to leave Banbury reeling on 16-4.

Afridi had the left-handed Ed Phillips caught at slip and Nugent, steaming in, produced a magical over in which he bowled Paine off his pads and two balls later uprooted Darby’s leg stump, beaten for pace.

Following suit, Afridi hit West’s top of off and middle and three of Banbury’s top five had departed for ducks in addition to their most prolific batsman Paine for 12.

Banbury still had their number three Lloyd Sabin at the crease and he was joined by Henley old-boy and ex-Middlesex and Sussex all-rounder Chad Keegan, signed by Banbury in recent days to bolster their championship ambitions.

Keegan showed what a dangerous batter he can be, hitting two fours and two straight sixes before Afridi enticed a false shot to mid-on that Ashraf, tracking back, did well to catch over his shoulder.

Sabin remained a threat until Nugent trapped him lbw in the 29th over, Singh bowled his opposite number Ryan with a ball that turned and Banbury went in to lunch at 69-7.

The visitors were soon down to 83-9 and struggling to reach 100, courtesy of a fourth wicket for Nugent and a second for Singh, but Ashley Blanchard and James Phillips put on a last wicket stand of 61 to take Banbury to 144 all out. Blanchard finished on 53 off 62 balls including six fours and two sixes, caught at deep mid-wicket.

Henley now had 68 overs to overhaul a modest target but this would not prove a walk in the park. Keegan opened the bowling with Wright though skipper Luke Ryan introduced spin from both ends from the 10th over and Henley took a while to get going.

After Barnes was given lbw to the off-spin of West, Matt Rowe joined Roberts and they took the home team to almost the half-way point with some assured batting including half a dozen powerful fours to Rowe, especially to mid-wicket.

Two quick wickets unsettled the nerves in this crucial contest as Roberts missed a ball from Penhale’s first over, walking immediately from the lbw decision, and Ashraf went to sweep just his third delivery only to be bowled by West.

Rowe was joined by Allaway but the left-handers were to perish in consecutive overs, Rowe caught at short mid-on as Penhale’s second victim, and Allaway surviving one lbw shout from Keegan but not the next on the last ball before tea.

Henley resumed on 108-5 with 37 still to get and soon lost Mordt, stumped, with the score on 115.

Australian James Bazley then hit three fours and four sixes to reach 45 from 32 deliveries to put Henley on track. With the scores tied, he tried to finish it with another six, to be caught by Sabin on the long-on boundary. Afridi then came in and hit the winning run.

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