A disappointing batting display cost Banbury the points and top spot in the Home Counties Premier League.

Winning the toss, Banbury skipper decided to field on a green wicket which appeared seamer friendly. The humid conditions also aided movement through the air. Falkland began very positively and after only 5 overs were 32 without loss, Heath playing particularly positively. After this initial period the Banbury bowlers then began to apply the pressure and Heath (25) was the first to go caught by Jimmy Phillips off the bowling of Simon Launder.

Banbury continued to apply the pressure on the home side and it was surprisingly, considering the appearance of the wicket, the spin of Jimmy Phillips and Richard Kaufman that did the damage. Phillips bowled particularly well and was unlucky to pick up only two wickets, although his 21 overs only cost him 59 runs. Kaufman came on to dismiss dangerman, Morris (45) and then picked up three further lower order wickets to finish with figures of 4 for 33.

Two dropped catches and the occasional lapse in the field during the Falkland innings did cost Banbury, but the bowlers did an excellent job in restricting the home side to 218 for 9 off their 66 overs.

Chris Smith, returning from Cardiff UCCE opened the innings with Paul Taylor and the pair progressed the Banbury reply along steadily without undue concern. They put on 41 for the first wicket before Smith (14) edged the spin of K Zafar to 1st slip in his first over. The ball and turned and bounced prodigiously and looked as if it could cause problems to Banbury as the pitch dried out. In the next over off the bowling of Falkland’s second off-spinner Kamar, Taylor (28) also edged to slip. Kaufman was out to the very next ball and Banbury very quickly found themselves in trouble at 47 for 3.

Craig Haupt and Danny Harding batted sensibly and their stand of 82 for the 4th wicket got Banbury back on track and at tea the win was still a possibility, although the run rate was creeping up all the time. There was never any doubt that Banbury were always going to go for victory but when Haupt (43) was dismissed and Harding (33) were dismissed in successive overs that prospect soon became more difficult to achieve.

The Falkland’s fielding was excellent and the two catches that dismissed Steve Beck (11) and Calum Taylor (13) wouldn’t have been out of place on the international stage.

Despite some lusty blows from Banbury’s lower order the chase finally ended in the 51st over when Simon Launder was caught by Foster with the score on 172. Zafar finishing with fine figures of 7 for 57 off 18.3 overs.

It was a disappointing display by Banbury with the bat and with High Wycombe drawing with Oxford meant that Banbury are now in second place in the Home Counties Premier League, four points behind High Wycombe.

Banbury must now regroup for next weekends match against Oxford at Whitepost Road.

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