Home Counties round-up: Datchet get season underway with 25-run win over newly promoted Wokingham

Ben Brookes

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Datchet got their Home Counties Division 1 campaign underway on a positive note with a 25-run victory over newly promoted Wokingham at the Wally Gage Memorial Ground on Saturday.

Joe Barrett's team were eased out of title contention in the second half of last season, eventually finishing fifth, 79 points adrift of champions High Wycombe.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Datchet made a confident start at the crease with Barrett scoring 31 runs from 50 balls before falling to Callum Creighton.

Ben Brookes picked up the baton and scored a fluent 74 from 97 deliveries but both innings were outshone by Steven Naylor, who smashed a magnificent 102 from 79 balls. With Bobby Sher providing able support for his quickfire 67 from 50, Datchet finished their 50 overs with an impressive 322-4.

That Wokingham got anywhere near to it is a credit to them and their own offensive play. Michael Cowdell (79) and Imran Malik (40) got them off to a fine start as they shared 96 for the first wicket. And, with further runs coming from Wokingham's middle order, in particular Danny Housego (36) and Shaan Khan (26), the outcome was still in the balance as they reached 173-3 and 218-4. However, the run rate slowed as they got down towards their lower order, with Sukhmeet Kang (24) and Max Uttley (29) making starts. Naylor finished with his side's best figures with both bat and ball, taking 3-58, while Oliver Smithson (2-32), Brookes (2-70) and Sher (2-13) persevered to grind Wokingham's innings to a halt on 297 from 48.2 overs.

This Saturday Datchet travel to Oxford, who were beaten by 105 runs by Henley last weekend.

W Slough's first game back in Division 1 went down to the final ball but the rub of the green went with the hosts as they took victory by one wicket. Promoted as champions from Division 2 last season, Slough's aggressive, attacking style of cricket might have to be reined in a little against the improved bowling attacks of Division 1 sides. Having won the toss, the visitors elected to bat but, while runs quickly came wickets also fell as they were bowled out for 185 in 44.2 overs. Kashif Ali reached 54 before being caught and bowled by Ollie Thilo (3-27) while several others made decent starts without going on to post a match-altering total.

Finchampstead also struggled to score fluently as they were reduced to 55-4, however, while the top order flattered to deceive, the middle order pairing of Zac Leonard (45) and Doug Murray (26) pushed the hosts towards their total. Michael O'Donahue (22), Lewis Sharp (17no) and Thilo (16) chipped away at the deficit, but they still needed five runs from the final three balls of the match. These they made, due in no small part to a lucky edge for four over third man, but they got there on the final ball with one wicket in hand (186-9). Slough skipper Nadeem Syed finished with his side's best figures of 3-41.

W Wargrave won their opening match in Home Counties Division 2 by eight wickets after restricting Chesham to just 75 runs.

Captain Neal Robinson made an excellent call to field on winning the toss, and his side made the visitors suffer at the crease. Matthew Rance scored a creditable 25 but double figure efforts were few and far between elsewhere as Joe Priestley and Euan Woods ripped through Chesham's order. Woods finished with 6-8 and Priestley - who removed much of the top order - 3-26. Despite the loss of a couple of wickets, Sulaiman Javed for 35 and Rhodri Lewis for 21, Wargrave's reply was routine with Woods (18no) and Toby Greatwood (1no) batting them to 77 in just over 10 overs.

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