HIGH Wycombe CC face table-topping Banbury tomorrow but captain Matthew Eyles believes their title challenge could have been over before it had even begun if they’d been beaten by the weather again last Saturday.
They dodged the showers to beat Oxford at London Road and register their first victory of the season.
But with early leaders Banbury the only other side to win on a rain-disrupted day in the Home Counties League, Eyles admits it was nearly win or bust for his team.
He said: “If we’d been rained off again it would have been a huge blow this season. With Banbury winning, I think it would have been quite significant so I was prepared to risk zero points and getting heavily beaten to try and play the game.
“I think both captains realised there was an opportunity there, and I like to think I’m a positive captain who will always try to win the game.”
Losing the toss and being inserted wasn’t ideal, but despite the early loss of 15-year-old opener Saif Zaib, Wycombe’s innings gathered force with Nick Robinson (52) and James Benning (62) both going along at more than a run a ball.
Eyles himself kept the rate ticking along with a brisk 21 as Wycombe reached 204-6 from just 30 overs.
Eyles said: “We batted superbly. Nick and Jamie set the foundations and everyone else chipped in.
“We lost a bit of momentum at the end of the innings, but I’d have taken that score.”
The real damage was done at the start of Oxford’s innings though, as their top order had been ripped out by the end of the first powerplay.
Gavin Baker, George Harper and Benning all struck early on and the visitors were always behind the required rate as they limped to 146 all out after 26.4 overs.
After a defeat and cancellation in their first two games, Eyles said: “It was important we got up and running. Wycombe always drains well and we were lucky with the weather.
“We lost the toss and Oxford always had the best of the conditions, but it was important we got a win for our confidence.”
They are now second and 27 points behind Banbury, who have played and won all three of their matches to date.
A visit from Wycombe tomorrow might be their first real test.
Eyles said: “Banbury are clearly the in-form team at the moment so we will have to play our best cricket against them.”