Chad Keegan’s superb five-wicket haul led Oxfordshire to a 49-run victory over Cumberland in the quarter-finals of the Unicorns Counties Trophy at Bicester & North Oxford yesterday.
The Henley paceman took 5-20 in eight overs to spearhead an impressive team bowling display as the visitors fell well short of Oxon’s 178 all out.
Luke Ryan’s men will now host Wiltshire in the last four on Sunday, July 13 at a venue to be confirmed.
Oxfordshire needed to bowl well.
But with spinner Ryan (3-28) and miserly seamer Karl Penhale also highly effective, they pulled off the task with aplomb, dismissing Cumberland for 129.
Cumberland inserted the hosts, but Oxfordshire made a strong start.
Although Richard Kaufman fell early on, Nathan Hawkes and Lloyd Sabin took the hosts to 80-1 inside 15 overs.
Hawkes was by far the more fluent, making 47 off 37 balls, including seven fours.
But when he was caught at long leg going for a pull shot, Oxon lost momentum.
Seamer Scott Lees, who removed Hawkes, finished with 3-30.
But it was spinners Toby Bulcock and James Lowe, who turned the game.
Left-armer Bulcock claimed 1-18 from his ten overs, while off-spinner Lowe took 5-31.
Jonny Cater was the only other batsman to pass 20.
No 10 Penhale’s 16 off 31 balls gave him a strike rate of above 50, and so proved Oxon’s second quickest scorer.
The hosts had to get off to a flier in the field and so did thanks to Keegan.
Lowe had shown his intent with a six over mid-wicket off Liam Manley, but Keegan soon had him caught behind.
Cumberland were 13-2 when Josh Tolley fell lbw to Keegan’s next delivery before captain and 2005 Ashes legend Gary Pratt (for his run out of Ricky Ponting as a substitute) survived the hat-trick ball.
Keegan trapped Neil Longhurst lbw to make it 20-3 before Logan Weston and Pratt dug in.
Off-spinner Richard West had Weston caught at slip by Kaufman for 43-4.
Oxon brought on seamer Ashley Blanchard at third change and he struck in his first over.
Alex Atkinson had already smashed West for six and added two fours off Blanchard, but then skied one to Keegan.
The next over from Penhale saw Pratt survive three chances – the first of which being an appeal for obstructing the field after he seemed to block the bowler’s shy at the stumps.
Cumberland managed just 14 runs in the next ten overs as they looked to rebuild.
It got better for Oxon when captain Luke Ryan struck twice in an over.
Firstly he had Pratt lbw much to the latter’s annoyance then Bulcock was caught behind by Cater to make it 102-7.
Ryan bagged a third victim in his next over as Oxon really turned the screw, combining with Cater again to remove Paul Hindmarch.
Ryan brought Keegan back on with immediate effect as the former Middlesex and Sussex seamer bowled Richard Gleeson with a superb yorker.
Keegan completed the job by rattling Lees’s stumps to cue some joyful scenes.