Slough's agonising defeat to Finchampstead went down to the very final ball

Raja Ikhlaq Nawaz

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Slough Cricket Club were competitive, but ultimately unsuccessful on their return to Home Counties Cricket League Division 1 on Saturday.

Their match against Finchampstead went right down to the wire but, with the outcome in the balance in the final over, the home side edged a fortunate four over third man and went on to take victory.

Slough must feel like they're not getting the rub of the green having also lost last weekend's T20 knock out game against Harefield based on having lost more wickets after that game ended in a tie!

Captain Nadeem Syed will admit they could have done better with the bat, making only 185 before being bowled out in the 45th over, however, Kashif Ali did at least make a stand, reaching 54 before he fell to Ollie Thilo (4-27).

But the game remained on a knife edge throughout Finchampstead's reply as Syed (3-47) and Raja Ikhlaq Nawaz (2-27) chipped away with wickets. Entering the final over the game could easily have swung Slough's way, with the home side needing five runs to win with just three balls to face. However, with a big slice of fortune going their way, they got the runs they needed off the final few balls to pick up 20 points to Slough's eight. They finished on 186-9.

“I thought we were very competitive,” said Syed. “We lost the game on the last ball when we had them nine down. It could have gone either way.

“They needed five off the last three balls and got an edge over the third man to get four.

“We were right in the game until the last ball so that was a positive.

“We could have batted slightly better and had a little bit more control over our extras, but I couldn't fault the effort.

“Sometimes in these kinds of games you're on the receiving end but this wasn't a one-sided affair. It was right on a knife edge to the last ball.

“We've also been struggling for availability. Dan (Lincoln) wasn’t available on Saturday and our overseas player isn't yet with us because of a visa delay but that isn't an excuse because we still have a strong squad. I'm hoping that our availability will get better and that will strengthen us as a team.

He added: “I have high hopes for the team, and I think we're looking in good shape. it's going to be a step up from Division 2 as there are some strong well-oiled machines in this league. It's going to be a challenge but it's one we're looking forward to.”

Slough played a swashbuckling, attacking style of cricket to win the Division 2 title last year, and, while Syed has no plans to change that, he does admit there will be times they have to rein in that aggression and play smarter cricket if they're to get the better of teams at this level.

“We play a certain brand of cricket and we're going to stick to it.” he said.

“We can be competitive playing our way and I have a lot of faith in the boys. We play a very aggressive style of cricket and sometimes that went against us last season and we didn't manage to bat out our overs. It's what made us successful, and we want to follow the same process but with a little more caution because the bowling is better. You can’t attack all the time and we'll need to assess the conditions with more common sense. Equally we don't want to lose the essence of what we were last season.”

Slough won the regional rounds of the league's T20 competition last season, defeating higher level opponents to reach the national rounds, however, they've already bowed out this season, losing to Harefield despite tying with them on 183.

“We lost because we lost more wickets,” said Syed. “The week before that we had a tied friendly game, so we've been competitive in every game

“That’s a positive and the squad will be strengthened in two- or three-weeks’ time. Mishan Silva is coming over from Sri Lanka to be our overseas. Visas are taking longer to process, but whenever he arrives, he will add to our quality.

“We also need to trust in the players we have now, and I have full confidence in them. The quality is there and whatever we get in will only add to it.”

Slough will look to bounce back at home to Aston Rowant on Saturday but face a Rowant side who defeated one of the league favourites, Banbury, at the weekend.

“They had a good win against Banbury who are a strong outfit. It will be a challenging game for us,” added Syed.

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