Palmer Breaks Bat in Hard Hitting Draw

Henley 3rds drew a fluctuating match with Stoke Green 1’s on Saturday at Nettlebed. Having won the toss the visitors elected to bat first and got off to a flyer with a 50 partnership coming up in the eighth over as Ed Birkett and thirds debutant Johnny Wright struggled to find their length.

Wright broke the partnership as G Khan (24) skyed a catch to Ben Francis, and this was quickly followed up by Hayden having Bourne (21) brilliantly caught by Alex Price at second slip and Nizami lbw for 0 in the next over. At 58-3 Henley now appeared to have the upper hand. U Butt and H Hussain then swung the balance the other way as they put on 60 with some hard hit drives before Hayden bowled Hussain (31) with a full toss.

Two sharp run outs accounted for Arjan (6) and Butt (92), and the reintroduction of Wright had Desai (16) was well caught by Sam Ranger at deep cover. Dhillon (1) and M Hussain (0) then fell in consecutive balls to leave Wright on a hat trick. Unfortunately, he was unable to get it but he soon cleaned up the innings having Injum caught by Gurung at point to leave him with figures of 5-70.

The target set by Stoke Green of 216 was par for the course and Henley’s reply started slowly by openers Alex Price and Rob Kenworthy. Price was the first to go getting a leading edge to cover for 0, and Charlie Homewood joined the run chase but found scoring difficult only being able to hit 1s and 2s. Kenworthy had a reprieve on 16 when running a 2 as the keeper knocked the bails off without the ball with him well short of his ground, but Kenworthy was to follow shortly after for 20 bowled by Nizami.

Pakash Gurung then joined Homewood and the score ticked over nicely until Homewood (21) was bowled and Ben Francis was unfortunate to be lbw for 4. At 78-5 Henley were behind the rate but the experienced Gurung hit some fine boundaries to keep them in the race. A spectacular overhead catch ended Dan Hayden’s innings of 8, and some spirited batting from Nathan Hopkins (19) kept the pendulum of this match swinging still further.

The pendulum was very firmly in Stoke Green’s favour at 148-8 after Hopkins was bowled, Gurung fell to another brilliant catch for a well-made 45 and Johnny Wright was caught for 1. With 68 still needed with 9 overs and 2 wickets left Henley captain Jeremy Palmer and Sam Ranger showed there was still fight in the Henley cause as they smacked a quick fire 50 partnership. Inventive running from Ranger (22) and powerful hitting from Palmer (leaving his bat in 2 pieces), took Henley to the brink of victory.

With Ranger’s dismissal to the impressive M. Hussain (4-29) left 14 still needed from the last over the game was once again in the balance. No.11 Ed Birkett scrambled a leg bye to leave 13 off the last 4 balls but Palmer failed to connect with the next ball and from that point shut up shop to ensure Henley did not lose.

10 points from this game leaves Henley 6th in Div 3a 3 points behind Stoke Green and 15 points behind the leaders.