Roberts strikes in vain as rain stops game
DESPITE dominating WOKINGHAM with the bat, HENLEY had to settle for a draw as the clock ticked closer and ended any hope of victory in last Saturday’s Home Counties Premier League clash at the Brakspear Ground.
With Datchet and High Wycombe both winners, Henley remains fifth, in Division 1, but has lost ground to leaders Datchet.
In winning the coin toss, Henley opted to hit a good wicket, although for the first seven overs it looked anything but Wokingham’s tailors, led by former Henley player and Wokingham sophomore , Andrew Rishton, limited Johnny Connell and Matt Rowe to just seven shorts.
In the eighth Rowe viciously threw Creighton into the lots for six, but in the ninth he faced Rishton for the first time and was caught off guard.
Cue Mike Roberts to step over the crease and, for the rest of the morning, he and, gradually, Connell exposed Wokingham‘s bowling shortcomings and proved beyond doubt that the wicket was a very flat track.
After a particularly brutal over (13th) which gave 14 points, Rishton was replaced by the former player of Slough Khan and Creighton by Uttley. But the boundaries continued to flow and as Wokingham skipper Dan Housego, once a teenage prodigy from Henley, posted more boundary outfielders, so did the easy selections for some of them.
Rishton came back on the 25th, now paired with Muirden, but it made no difference, the pair were serially dropped off the ground, needing, not for the first or last time, a replacement ball. At lunch, Henley was flying 129-1 (Connell 56 not out, Roberts 57 not out) and Wokingham bowling for the outs.
That’s precisely what happened shortly after lunch as an extinguished Connell played an innocuous shot but forgot to recover his ground and was overtaken by an illuminated Uttley.
Richard Morris, playing his last match for Henley, has now joined Roberts. One of Roberts’ first acts when he was made captain in 2016 was to persuade Morris to join the club and what a player he was. A key part of the team that won three straight championships, he had the satisfaction of coming away with a mark of 45. By then, Roberts had finished for 112 in the long run.
But if Wokingham bowlers thought calmer waters awaited them, Euan Brock (39 from 33, one four and three sixes) and
Stewart Davison (36 from 31, two fours and a six) quickly disabused them of that notion, Brock slamming a now utterly demoralized Rishton (20 overs, three maidens, 2-125) to Remenham Hill three times.
Tactically, Brock’s start in the 62nd with the score on an unassailable 303 should have been the time to declare rather than batting for 17 extra balls and 21 runs and handed four bowling points to Wokingham. So it was that when the dust settled and the game was a draw, Henley had 11 points to show for their efforts, one less than Wokingham, which hardly reflected the balance of the game. The downside of a good batting deck is that it makes it very difficult to take 10 wickets. By the time the lingering rain finally ended proceedings in the 31st, Rishton and Housego looked comfortable and only three wickets had been prized, the pick of the group being Rowe’s reaction to a short midwicket from the return of Shaariq Sheikh to retire the widely traveled. Conrad Louth.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Henley will complete the first half of the league schedule with a trip to the Wally Gage Memorial Ground to take on league leaders Datchet.