An incredible match unfolded at Slough, in a rain-affected match which ended in a much needed win by Banbury.

Banbury arrived at Slough to see a very green pitch which was only cut just over an hour before the start of the match. This coupled with the overcast conditions made the toss vital.

Unfortunately for Banbury, they lost the toss and found themselves batting against the pace of Abdur Khan and the swing of Steve Naylor. They soon found themselves in trouble, Khan removing both openers, Chris Smith for two and Taylor for nought. It was then Naylor’s turn to get in on the action. He had Banbury dangerman, Craig Haupt (7) stumped by Andrew Ward whilst the keeper was standing back. Haupt overbalanced after letting the ball go through to the keeper who quickly realised and threw the stumps down. Calum Taylor (4) soon followed being caught behind off Naylor. Banbury were reeling at 28 for 4. It was another top order failure which has been only too familiar in recent weeks.

Banbury skipper, Richard Kaufman who has also been out of form recently, came to the crease with his team in turmoil. He threw caution to the wind and played a typically flamboyant innings. Nathan Hawkes (11) proved to be a valuable ally and between them forged a partnership of 54 which started to rebuild the innings. The conditions weren’t going to change much during the day and it was vital that Banbury batted for as long as possible to give the bowlers a target to bowl at.

Kaufman’s fifty came in only 49 balls and included 10 fours. Naylor broke the partnership which brought debutant Ed Phillips to the crease for his first experience of Home Counties Premier League cricket. He played with great maturity, firstly with Kaufman and then with Luke Ryan to help Banbury’s cause.

Kaufman’s innings ended on 52 when he was caught behind off Abdur Khan. The Pakistan ‘A’ fast bowler was again struggling with no-balls, bowling fifteen in his 13 over spell but he produced a good delivery to dismiss the Banbury skipper.

Phillips (19) and Ryan (11) produced a vital partnership of 38 runs to take Banbury’s total to 138 before Ryan padded-up to Naylor’s inswinger. Bjorn Kotze, the Namibian opening bowler, also making his debut, came to the crease and spent a short time with Phillips before he was dismissed by Naylor.

The tail was wagging for Banbury and it proved crucial at the end of the day. The battling spirit of the team was typified by the last wicket partnership of 23 between Jimmy Phillips and Simon Launder. Phillips producing a Home Counties Premier League best innings of 15. Banbury’s total of 168 off 50.1 overs was way short of what they should have reached but the spirit of the team showed through in getting them there. Naylor finished with figure of 5 for 64 with Abdur Khan picking up 4 for 47.

With Banbury being bowled out, it meant that Slough had 69 overs to reach the required target.

The Slough innings started with Russell Lane playing a typically aggressive innings putting Banbury’s opening bowlers, Launder and Kotze, to the sword. The opening partnership produced 56 runs with Gheyas Khan scoring only 8 of those runs.

Calum Taylor, who has recently been recovering from shoulder surgery proved to be back to his best taking the first three wickets dismissing Lane (60), Khan (8) and Steve Naylor (2) leaving Slough on 83 for 3.

Only 18.1 overs had been bowled in the Slough innings when the rain fell with the score on 87 for 3. Torrential rain fell for over an hour and a half. The umpires decided that it was fit to start at 7.02pm with Slough requiring 82 off only 11.5 overs that were still available to bowl.

If Slough were to stay in touch with league leaders High Wycombe they were going to have to go for the win. The square was still very wet and the ball was very difficult to grip and the Banbury bowlers initially found the going very tough.

Abdur Khan (30) and Mohammed Fazal (27) smashed the ball around and in only five overs put on 48 for the 4th wicket. A superb catch, running in from the boundary, by Luke Ryan off the bowling of Simon Launder proved to be the start of the incredible demise of Slough. Fazal followed soon after caught by Kotze, this time off Ryan’s bowling. At 147 for 4, with 4 overs still to bowl, the victory target appeared very much in sight.

Banbury skipper, Kaufman had turned to the spin twins, Luke Ryan and Jimmy Phillips, to bowl out the remaining overs and in difficult conditions it proved to be a winning move.

Over the next three overs, six wickets fell for the addition of only 15 runs with Ryan picking up three wickets and Jimmy Phillips completing the magnificent victory with a hat-trick to clinch the twenty five points that sees Banbury climb back up to fourth in the Home Counties Premier League.

Two weeks prior, Slough had capitulated in a similar way against Falkland and the sense of déja-vous rang true.

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