CRICKET: Oxfordshire's delight as victory books final spot

The Oxfordshire squad celebrate their victory over Wiltshire

The Oxfordshire squad celebrate their victory over Wiltshire

First published in Sport Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

OXFORDSHIRE reached the Minor Counties knockout final for the first time in their history after a dramatic turnaround against Wiltshire at Bicester & North Oxford.

Luke Ryan’s men ended up winning yesterday’s semi-final by 105 runs to set up a showdown with Devon at Wormsley on Wednesday, August 27.

But with Wiltshire on 103-2 from 13 overs, such a victory looked unlikely.

However, the introduction of Oxon’s spin quartet turned the tide, with Ryan and Richard West leading the way.

All this came after Jonny Cater’s superb unbeaten century fired the hosts to 263-8.

Having lost three semi-finals from 2007-2009 and eight in total, Oxfordshire have made it ninth time lucky.

The hosts chose to bat after winning the toss and made good progress, despite losing Joe Barrett early on and having to break for rain.

Hugo Darby made 45 on his trophy debut, while Nathan Hawkes added 33.

Darby was run out by Ed Young as he and Cater attempted a risky single, but this did not stem the run rate.

Cater and Perkin rotated the strike well before the latter fell to an excellent return catch from Wiltshire seamer Ashur Morrison.

Captain Ryan came in at No 6, but was soon back in the hutch after being caught by Jake Roberts at long on.

West was bowled attempting a slog, while Ashley Blanchard and Michael Beard added run-a-ball cameos.

Cater was undoubtedly the star of the show and brought up his first 50-over century in the final over, despite a couple of nervy moments.

His ton came off 94 balls, featuring eight fours and one six.

The visitors’ reply began in frantic fashion, leaving them 22-2 after three overs.

Karl Penhale got both the wickets in his second over, trapping Tom Morton lbw then having Jayden Levitt caught by Darby.

Oxon brought on Beard, but a disastrous over saw four wides and three fours to leave Wiltshire 69-2 off nine.

Penhale returned the following over, but neither he nor fellow seamer Blanchard could stem the tide as Wilts sauntered to 103-2 off 13 overs.

The first over of spin from West yielded a further nine runs, but Ryan theb bowled Young for 46 and when West trapped Henry Langford lbw, Wiltshire were 124-4 after 20 overs.

Ryan removed Neil Clark and Morrison, thanks to catches from Cater and Beard respectively, before Adam Miles was caught by Darby off West.

When Tahir Afridi was stumped by Cater off Francois Vainker, the visitors fell to 155-8.

Coles soon followed to give Darby a third catch and a third wicket for West.

And Vainker wrapped it up when Penhale claimed a simple catch off Roberts.

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