Desperate Draw for Henley Vs High Wycombe

Henley welcomed High Wycombe to the Brakspear ground 3 points ahead of their opponents and 15 points behind league leaders Datchet. When the dust settled their advantage over High Wycombe had dropped to 2 points, trailed Datchet by 17 points and dropped to 4th place behind Aston Rowant and Wokingham.

On a sunny morning Tom Nugent continued his remarkable form with the toss, 10 wins from 11, and chose to field. Given that these two sides tied their earlier game this season at 300 runs apiece and with a parched outfield the stage was set for a run fest. After 3 balls of the first over the Wycombe score stood at 12 it looked as though it was going to be a hard day in the field. Jordan stemmed the flow and Nugent won an LBW decision against Callis in the second over. Casterton and Woodland progressed cautiously interspersing solid defence with the occasional boundary till Rowe took an excellent catch at first slip to leave the visitors 36 for 2. That was to be the last Henley success for some time as Marles and Woodland set about building the defining partnership of the innings. Nugent gave way to the spin of Searle who was joined shortly afterwards by Sheikh as Wycombe progressed easily to 100-2 at lunch. After the interval both batters progressed without alarm as the score mounted and the milestones were ticked off. 100 partnership, individual 50’s for Marles and Woodland, 150 partnership and 200 team total from 50 overs. Nugent relied on his spinners with Searle, Sheikh and Rowe rotating in an attempt to stem the runs. Woodland, the more cautious of the pair then took to Rowe, hitting him onto the roof of The Little Angel, sweeping him for 4, then hung his head in disbelief as he found the safe hands of Nugent on the mid-wicket boundary to end a 180 run partnership. With a maximum of 12 overs and 7 wickets left, Wycombe needed to press on while Marles continued inevitably to his century in 122 balls in the 59th over. The dash for 300 and an additional batting bonus point was on and courtesy of fine outfield catching Searle and Sheikh mopped up the last 7 wickets between them to leave Wycombe all out for 287 with one ball of the 64th over remaining.

The target of 288 at a rate of 5.1 runs an over seemed possible given the ground conditions and despite Carter being dropped in the first over 14-0 after 2 overs was a good start. Hampton and Parsons then got into their stride and made it hard work for Connell and Carter and despite the latter needing some attention having been struck on the hand, the 50 partnership came up in the 13th over. On the stroke of tea the breakthrough was achieved with Haddow getting Carter LBW for 53 and immediately after the break having a vociferous appeal against Davies turned down. Runs were proving hard to come by but the 100 came up in the 28th over only for Connell to depart one over later for 41. Davies and Rowe tried to push on but the Wycombe bowlers stuck to their task and despite some healthy overs the required rate started to climb. With 20 overs remaining Henley needed 154 with 8 wickets in hand and with two well set batsmen approaching a 50 partnership the home side perhaps had the edge. 23 runs came from the next 3 overs and the momentum was building however Parry had other ideas as in short order he bowled Rowe, had the dangerous Davies caught at long on and bowled Brock to leave Henley 170-5 from 43 overs. The equation of 118 from 13 at a rate above 9 an over proved a step too far and the experienced Davison and the maturing Hilditch recalibrated their sights to achieve 200 for an additional batting point while denying Wycombe any further bowling bonus points. A target duly achieved as the innings closed on 206-5.

A draw it was and the visitors would go away the happier of the two sides with more points reflecting on whether an earlier declaration but on a fast scoring ground probably content to hold on to what they had.

Next week sees Henley journey up the M40 to Banbury who sit 2 places and 13 points beneath them in the table.

Nick Robreno  

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