HIGH Wycombe CC’s bid to go from relegation fodder to title winners in one year ended two matches from the end of the season.
They were beaten at Tring Park last weekend while Henley’s triumph over second-placed Slough eased them out into a commanding lead with just two matches of the season remaing.
High Wycombe captain Matthew Eyels said: “We’re not going to win the league now. It’s not going to happen.
“Considering where we were last season we’d have probably taken this at the start of the year, but it’s disappointing at the same time because we were in a position to win the league.”
Less than a month ago they were top of the table and apparantly on their way to a Cinderalla season after their travails of last summer.
But, perhaps prophetically, Eyles said at the time: “The next three weeks will be crucial and will go a long way to seeing how it will pan out.”
And while his team proceeded to win just once from games against Oxford, Banbury and Gerrards Cross, Henley hit their stride with three out of three to take control of the title race.
Eyles said: “We had a period where we won three or four games in a row but the key game was the rained off match with Banbury.
“We had a terrific start in that match and were well on our way to a win that would have given us a 15-20 point lead.
“But we ended up with six points and it felt like a kick in the teeth.
“It gave the other sides a chance to close the gap and undid a lot of the hard work we’d done.”
Defeat to Gerrards Cross the following weekend completed the momentum shift before Tring hammered home the final nail on Saturday.
Eyles said: “We’ve just got too many batters out of form. You don’t deserve to win the league if you can’t chase down 160 [against Tring] and 180 [against Cross].
“Chasing under 200 is usually a formality with our side, but we’ve just not had enough time at the crease this summer.”
There is cause for optimism though, with High Wycombe’s young bowling attack devloping more this summer than they could possibly have imagined.
Eyles said: “I think we’ve got the best youngsters in the county. Even in the second team we’ve got some outstanding 15-year-olds coming through.
“They’ve had a terrific first season and gained fantastic experience. The future is bright for the club.”