CRICKET: Skipper Ryan backs Oxfordshire to march on

Nathan Hawkes returns for Oxfordshire’s quarter-final against Cumberland

Nathan Hawkes returns for Oxfordshire’s quarter-final against Cumberland

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Skipper Luke Ryan is confident Oxfordshire can send Cumberland packing in the Unicorns Counties Trophy quarter-final at Bicester & North Oxford on Sunday (11am).

Oxon have reached the last eight by winning their four group games.

And Ryan is able to name a full-strength side with Banbury’s destructive batsman, Nathan Hawkes, who has been unavailable until now, returning in place of Damian Shirazi.

The captain said: “He is a terrific batter at this level and can win a game on his own.

“It is fantastic to have him in the side and really strengthens our batting.”

And he added: “We are playing good one-day cricket at the moment and I would take us to beat any Minor Counties side on the day.

“We have really got ourselves sorted in one-day cricket with our roles and responsibilities and everyone has played a part.

“We are in a great place to nail the quarter-final.”

Hawkes will bat at No 3, with Lloyd Sabin stepping up to join Richard Kaufman in opening the innings.

A feature of Oxfordshire’s displays this season has been the depth of their batting, and Ryan believes that stands them in good stead for their latest test.

“We have lost a couple of wicket early on and our middle to lower order have stepped up and scored quickly with over 100 runs in the last ten overs on a couple of occasions to get us up to competitive totals,” he said.

Ryan admitted to not knowing much about Cumberland’s side apart from the fact they include Gary Pratt, who is famous for running out Australia captain Ricky Ponting while on the pitch as a substitute fielder in the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005.

But he added: “They are probably an experienced side that have played a lot of league cricket up there.”

Oxfordshire: L Ryan (capt), A Blanchard, J Cater, N Hawkes (all Banbury), R Kaufman (Old Northamptonians), C Keegan (Henley), L Manley (Banbury), K Penhale (Aston Rowant), L Sabin (Banbury), C Watling (Aston Rowant), R West (Banbury).

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