CRICKET: Early collapse critical as Oxford slip to defeat

Stuart Hole

Stuart Hole

First published in Sport

A top-order collapse saw Oxford fall to a 50-run defeat in a rain-shortened game at High Wycombe on Saturday.

An overnight downpour left the outfield unfit for an 11.30am start.

But the London Road ground escaped further rain and the Division 1 clash was able to commence at 3pm. reducing the contest to 30 overs a side.

Following on from his fine performance the previous week, seamer Stuart Hole got the visitors off to the perfect start with a wicket in the first over of the match.

On a small ground with a slippery ball, Oxford’s bowlers struggled to exert control and Wycombe pair Nick Robinson and James Benning both struck half-centuries, with former Surrey and Leicestershire man Benning’s 62 coming from just 49 balls.

Backed up by some good fielding, the Roman Way outfit never let the hosts entirely break the shackles and, given the fast-scoring nature of the ground, had reason to be satisfied at restricting the hosts to a total of 192-6.

However, this total then rose to 204 courtesy of the 12-run penalty Oxford incurred for a slow over rate.

Oxford’s reply started shakily as Francois Vainker was bowled by the first ball of the second over.

The run out of star batsman Stewart Laudat, returning from injury, sparked a calamitous couple of overs that saw Oxford lose four wickets for just two runs – crashing from a stable position of 40-2 to 42-6.

Hole, already well known to home sports fans from his time playing football for Wycombe Wanderers, began the rescue operation.

Alongside Shami Mendis, the pair showed what could be achieved on a pitch that held no demons, adding 56 in double quick time for the seventh wicket.

After Hole was caught on the long off boundary going for another maximum, New Zealander Mark Beer continued the assault on the Wycombe bowlers with 32 off 27 balls.

Mendis and Brad Sutherland then fell in quick succession and, despite a spirited last stand of 46 between Beer and last man Ian Evans, the damage sustained by the top order implosion proved fatal.

Oxford were eventually bowled out for 146 in the 27th over.

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