CRICKET: Shirazi back to boost Oxfordshire bid

7:20am Friday 9th May 2014

By Russell Smith

DAMIAN Shirazi ret-urns to open the batting as Oxfordshire bid to make it three straight wins in Group 4 when they face Bucks at Challow & Childrey on Sunday (11am).

The Aston Rowant left-hander has missed the opening two wins over Berkshire and Staffordshire, but comes into the side in place of Shabaz Alam.

Skipper Luke Ryan said: “Damian has years of experience at the top of the order and in both games our openers, in particular, have not got us off to the best of starts.

“I thought we needed a bit more experience at the top, and that’s the reason why he comes back in.”

Shirazi will resume his opening partnership with Richard Kaufman, with last week’s century-maker Lloyd Sabin remaining at No 3 in the order.

And Ryan added: “They compliment each other well. Richard goes quite hard at it and Damian is more of an accumulator.”

However, Ryan believes Alam will get his chance again in the future.

“He is a really talented player and has scored a lot of runs in a high standard of cricket,” he said.

“He has not quite made it into the squad of 12, but it is almost certain he will get another chance this year.”

Banbury all-rounder Rich-ard West, who failed to recover from his broken toe in time to face Staffs last week, will again have a fitness check.

Jasper Davies came in for him last week, and this time, his Oxford clubmate, Jamie Perkin, will step in if West doesn’t make it.

Although Oxfordshire have won their opening two games in convincing fashion, the captain is refusing to get carried away. “We have made the same start as last year, but those two wins were only by one wicket, so we have been a lot more convincing this time,” added Ryan.

“We keep saying to the boys that we are in no better place than last year and we didn’t get through, so we are taking one game at a time.”

Bucks’ one outing so far resulted in defeat by Herefordshire. Oxfordshire: from L Ryan (capt) (Banbury), A Blanchard (Banbury), J Cater (Banbury), R Kaufman (Old Northampton-ians), C Keegan (Henley), L Manley (Banbury), K Penhale (Aston Rowant), J Perkin (Oxford), L Sabin (Banbury), D Shirazi (Aston Rowant), C Watling (Aston Rowant), R West (Banbury).

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