CRICKET: Oxon crash to a two-day defeat

8:00am Tuesday 24th June 2014

Oxfordshire crashed to their second heavy Unicorns Counties Championship defeat when they lost by nine wickets to Devon in just two days at Banbury yesterday.

This followed Oxon’s ten-wicket loss against Wiltshire, which only just went into the third day.

While Oxon have eased into the semi-finals of the Unicorns Counties Trophy, their form in the three-day game has been dire, largely due to very poor availability.

So they fielded a young team including three debutants, two of whom struggle to get into their club’s first team, against a tried and trusted Devon outfit.

The visitors started the second day on 114-1 – 138 runs behind Oxon’s respectable first-innings score of 252.

Both overnight batsmen Liam Lewis and Rob Holman went onto get centuries as they extended their second-wicket stand to 220.

Lewis’s 123 came off 217 balls with 15 fours and three sixes, while Holman made 109 off 174 deliveries with 15 fours.

The one encouraging aspect for Oxon was the bowling of off-spinner Jimmy Phillips.

The 31-year-old Banbury captain claimed his second Championship five-wicket haul.

His final figures were 5-130 off 29 overs, while his clubmate and county captain Luke Ryan took just one wicket, although was unlucky on some close decisions.

At the end of their 90 overs, Devon had progressed to 380-8 – a lead of 128.

Any reasonable batting display in Oxon’s second innings should have taken the match comfortably into a third day.

After an opening stand of 47 between Shabaz Alam and Richard Kaufman, who made a rapid 33 before holing out to mid-on, only Richard Cook played a substantial innings.

The Aston Rowant player made a fluent 51 off 80 balls, and received determined support from debutant Alex Davies – 16 from 57 balls – in a fifth-wicket stand of 58.

But there followed a disastrous collapse in which the last six wickets fell for just 14 runs in six overs.

Devon, who claimed the extra half-hour, knocked off the 13 runs required for victory in 16 balls, but not before debutant Will Rooney had claimed his third wicket of the match in a whole-hearted display of seam bowling.

It was a depressingly quick finish.

But at least, this time, the players did not have to come back for a third day to complete the formalities.

Scores: Oxfordshire 252 & 140 (R Cook 51), Devon 380-8 dec (L Lewis 123, R Holman 109, J Phillips 5-130) & 15-1. Devon won by 9 wkts.

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