'Strange' game keeps Wycombe clear at the top

Matthew Eyles

Matthew Eyles

First published in Sport Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

MATTHEW Eyles reflected on a strange game as High Wycombe took seven wickets for the loss of just one run as they hammered Oxford to remain top of the tree.

The first wicket went down with Oxford on 14 before James Benning and George Harper took centre stage to reduce the hosts to 15-7.

Wycombe captain Eyles admitted his surprise at a collapse of such catastrophic proportions, with the hosts eventually all out for 98 after winning the toss and having first go on a wicket that looked perfect for batting.

Wycombe had other ideas though as Benning, who finished the match on figures of 5-30, and Harper tore into the top order.

The run chase wasn't plain sailing for Wycombe however as they lost four wickets on their way to knocking off the 99 runs needed for the win, as Eyles hit 33 and Benning returned to finish the job with the bat with an unbeaten 37.

Eyles said: "It was a bit of a strange game. We lost the toss and were made to bowl on what looked like an excellent pitch for batting. We were all a bit surprised when they were 15-7.

"There were no demons in the wicket and we were extremely grateful we got to that stage.

"We did bowl extremely well as a team - it was a combination of good bowling and very bad batting at points."

Number seven Shamilal Mendis was the only Oxford batsman to emerge with any credit, contributing 56 of his side's miserly 98 runs.

But Eyles said: "We thought we had him out on nought. We had a very good shout for caught behind, so it could have been an even lower score."

Wycombe sit top of the Home Counties League Division One table but just eight points separate the top four.

Third placed Banbury are up next at London Road on Saturday, with Wycombe also having to face second placed Henley and Slough, who sit fourth, before the end of the season.

The final four games of the season follow the 50 over format and Eyles said whoever keeps their bottle will be crowned champions.

He said: "If we can stay top before the win/loss format kicks in, that's when the league is going to be decided. It's a case of jostling for position in the table.

"It's going to be a battle of nerves. Henley have won the league many a time, as we have - they have the most experience out of the top four.

"Banbury have been one of the form sides and they'll be really up for it.

"Slough are probably the unknown. It'll be interesting to see how they keep up with the top of the table towards the end of the season."

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