A tenth win of the season, a record number of wins for Henley in any season in the HCPCL, saw the home side see off Tring Park’s challenge by 46 runs and maintain their lead at the top of Division 1 of the HCPCL over Banbury, who overcame Potters Bar. On a day when the top order did not provide the runs, it was down to the middle and lower orders to stand up and be counted which they did in the form of Bjorn Mordt, Jason Barber and Stuart Davison.
In a change of tactics, having won the toss, Henley skipper Bjorn Mordt opted to bat, thereby putting the onus on Tring, who needed to win to maintain any interest in the Championship, to chase down a Henley score.
Tring blended young and old in their opening bowling in the form of Middlesex’s U19 Tom Helm and the veteran Simon Stanway. Michael Roberts and Dave Barnes adopted a suitably circumspect approach in the early overs, dealing almost exclusively in boundaries when the ball was there to be hit. All was well until the 11th over when Barnes nicked off to a juggling Dutch at slip making it 38-1 which became 40-4 in no time at all as Roberts saw his off stump removed by an excellent Stanway delivery that nipped away, Cameron Boyce was adjudged lbw off his first ball and Dave Allaway nicked off to Dutch at slip. All four wickets were down to Stanway and, albeit in different overs, the bowler picked up a hat trick to boot. Nothing more than medium pace these days, Stanway’s metronomic accuracy and variations had done what few other sides have managed this year. Stanway would eventually bowl 31 overs, 13 maidens and end up with figures of 6-61.
Hamza Riazuddin and the incoming Mordt dug in to put on 66 for the next wicket before Riazuddin was caught behind for a measured 19 off 85 balls. This brought Barber to the crease. Barber started as he meant to go on with a cut four backwards of point and another boundary flipped over mid-wicket. This was followed up by some shots that owed more to baseball than cricket, but by the time he was bowled by Dutch, Barber has struck an invaluable 63 which had included some spectacularly massive hitting to all parts, comprising 7 fours and 3 sixes off just 54 balls. Meantime, Mordt had scored an equally valuable 54 before being caught at slip. Davison proved an excellent foil to Barber, getting in on the act with some stylish boundaries, both batsmen scampering runs at every opportunity before Davison was caught behind for 36. Tahir Afridi and Gurveer Singh offered little resistance and the innings ended in the 65th over, Henley some 30 or more runs light.
In the end, Tring ended up 46 runs short, all out in 50 overs – overall an excellent performance by the Henley bowling unit that belied some profligate bowling, but which owed a great deal to the medium pace and flight of Mordt, returning figures of 5-38 in 14 overs. Like Stanway, he took out the top order. Tring certainly set out to do their utmost to chase down the Henley score and showed great positivity, but the key lay in the fall of wickets at critical times. No one went onto make the big pivotal score.
Following a pretty brisk start by the Tring openers, a short sharp shower saw Tring lose 4 overs from their available 55 and, soon afterwards, their opener Pritchard (32-1) who could only scoop a Mordt delivery to Barnes moving from slip to gully. Mordt’s next victim was the dangerous and experienced Dutch sharply caught at slip by Roberts (57-2). Prichard and Tring skipper Payne took the game to Mordt and Boyce before Mordt trapped Payne lbw (94-3). The turning point came in the 27th over when Tomlinson drilled a Mordt delivery to Riazuddin at cover and Helm was bowled by Mordt with his next ball. 107-4, then 5 became 107-6 when Devisetty became Boyce’s one and only lbw victim of the day. But Tring were not giving up without a fight and as Dixon and Arshad plundered runs from Boyce and Afridi, something needed to change.
Change it did with Singh replacing Boyce from the Pavilion End and Boyce swapping ends. First Singh cleaned up Dixon to end a 52 run partnership before Wilson, doubtless feeling the pressure to give Arshad the strike, prodded a Boyce delivery into the covers and set off for a run that never was. Nugent’s lightning return and keeper Davison’s removal of the bails did the rest. Having clattered Singh for a boundary, a very disappointed Arshad was given out lbw with Singh’s next ball and Henley now had 5 overs to get the last wicket. For Tring, it was now a matter of seeing out 51 overs for a draw. With both Stanway and Raja looking increasingly comfortable with spin, the overs ticked down and when Mordt cannily brought Afridi back from the pavilion end, Tring had just 12 balls to survive. In the event Afridi’s last delivery of the day clean bowled Stanway and that was that with just six balls to spare.
So another win on a day when, despite the statistics, Henley never really dominated with either bat or ball but, managed to retain the initiative. Experienced medium pace on both sides was the order of the day, the Henley middle and lower order showed up when needed most and, overall, Henley could be pleased with their ground fielding. Elsewhere, Banbury kept up the pressure and a mouth watering encounter awaits the partisan and neutral alike at While Post Road next Saturday. Slough kept up their fine run beating North Mymms and Wycombe earned a much needed win as Burnham self-destructed.