CRICKET: Belcher rewrites record books with Oxfordshire debut

Lloyd Belcher

Lloyd Belcher

First published in Sport

LLOYD Belcher became Oxfordshire’s youngest player when making his debut in their Western Division clash at Shropshire yesterday.

The Horspath spinner, at 15 years and ten days old, claimed two wickets as the hosts were dismissed for 284 at Bridgnorth.

Oxfordshire were 94-2 at the close.

Belcher was called up to the side on Friday night after skipper Luke Ryan failed to recover from a neck spasm.

His appearance sees the pupil from Marlborough School, Woodstock, break the record held by Lloyd Sabin, who was 16 years and 26 days old when making his debut in 2010.

Belcher, who was the third-change bowler, claimed 2-64 off 13 overs, including one maiden.

The left-armer was delighted with his first appearance in Oxfordshire’s senior side.

“I started off a bit nervous with a lot of full tosses, but as I got into more of a rhythm I got some wickets,” Belcher said.

“It is a very good standard because it is quite a big step up from anything else I have played, but a lot of fun.

“The guys were good and took a lot of pressure of me.”

Belcher’s first wicket – Omar Ali – came courtesy of a stunning diving catch by Jamie Perkin.

Perkin was fielding at mid-wicket, but when the ball was hit aerially over his head, he sprinted back and took the effort at full stretch.

Belcher added: “It was the best catch I have ever seen.”

His second victim was Gurman Randhawa, who was bowled after attempting a reverse sweep.

Oxfordshire, who lost the toss, made a fine start when stand-in captain Chad Keegan bowled Steve Leach with the score on three.

Liam Manley then had Adrian Evans leg before as the hosts fell to 10-2.

When Will Rooney bowled Joe Carrasco and James Ralph in quick succession, Shropshire were in deep trouble at 42-4.

However, a steady 60-run partnership between Ryan Lockley and Ali gave the hosts a platform on which to build.

Ali became Belcher’s first victim when Perkin held a great catch.

But another solid stand, this time between Lockley and Randhawa, took the hosts to 175 before Francois Vainker trapped the former lbw for 74.

Lockley’s innings came off 118 balls and contained 13 fours.

Vainker claimed his second victim when bowling Tom Weston, leaving Shropshire on 206-7.

Another half-century partnership took the hosts to 258, when Randhawa attempted to reverse sweep Belcher, only to see his stumps shattered.

He made 72 off 148 deliveries, with seven fours.

Keegan came back into the attack to bowl Russ Aucott, before Vainker claimed his third wicket when bowling Ben Sanderson.

In reply, Vishane Perera fell cheaply when trapped leg before by Aucott with the score on 12.

Richard Kaufman then chased a wide one from Aucott and was caught behind to leave Oxon on 39-2.

But Sabin (24no) was joined by Hugo Darby (38no), a Durham MCCU batsman who lives in Oxford, with the duo digging in to leave the visitors on 94-2 at the close.

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