Written by Andy Bone
High Wycombe has been crowned the 2021 Home Counties Premier League, Division 1 Champions.
The final day of the season saw Wycombe start eleven points clear of their title challengers Henley, the side who had won the league on the previous three occasions. The only two games that had anything, other than sporting pride, riding on them were Wycombe and Henley challenging for the Division 1 crown, with their opponents, Thame Town and Finchampstead respectively, the two sides battling to stay in the top tier. Having won the toss, Wycombe skipper Dan Marles elected to bat first at Thame’s picturesque Church Meadow ground.
Eliot Callis brought a calmness to the proceedings as he stroked a classy century opening up for the visitors. The former Yorkshire batsman reached three figures from 119 balls before finally being dismissed for 112 having found Australian overseas Harvey Brennan (44) and Teddie Casterton (29) solid support.
Wycombe posted 256 for 9 from their 50 overs to put them in a strong position at the break.
Meanwhile, in Henley, the home side was dismissed for a surprising 146 against their Finchampstead opponents who were putting up a determined fight to stay up. AJ Woodland took three Thame scalps in his opening spell while Finchampstead openers Gregory Smith (61) and Madhawa Fernando (50) were putting on 120 for the first wicket in their run chase.
Despite a wobble as Finchampstead lost five wickets for just eleven runs, including three ducks, their victory all but assured their survival and, in doing so, gave Wycombe the title. Dinushka Malan made 53 for Thame as wickets tumbled at the other end. Sam Parry also claimed three wickets, the final one being an excellent catch by Casterton to start the celebrations.
There were contrasting emotions as Thame were relegated to Division 2 but their good young side will bounce back.
It was the first time that Henley (2017, 2018 & 2019 winners – 2020 No league played due to Covid) had not won Division 1 since 2016. It was Finchampstead who lifted the title that year, their skipper being Dan Marles, who again leads his side to the trophy in 2021.
Club chairman Chris Sketchley mentioned: "It’s been an incredibly tough time for everybody over the past 18 months which made winning the league on Saturday so special. The hard work and dedication of this team has shone through and are all at an age that we can go on and dominate for years to come."