8:30am Tuesday 15th July 2014
By Ed Mezzetti
OXFORDSHIRE captain Luke Ryan says there is every reason to be confident as they look ahead to the Unicorns Counties Trophy final.
Ryan’s men set up a showdown with Devon at Wormsley on Wednesday, August 27 after beating Wiltshire by 105 runs at Bicester & North Oxford.
This was Oxon’s sixth successive 50-over victory this season and secured their first appearance in the knock-out final.
Ryan said: “Devon are a good side and beat us in the Championship, but we weren’t even at full strength against Wiltshire.
“If we can get a few players back for the final, we will be even stronger and selection will be very tough.”
Ryan said making the final underlines the progress Oxfordshire have made in the one-day game, but knows availability remains a big issue in the three-day Championship, where they have struggled this season.
“During the winter, we knew we had a good side and knew we could compete if we got our best side out there,” he said.
“We just clicked really, especially in the early matches and we have just kept that momentum going.
“We have a core of Banbury players in the side and between them and Oxfordshire, we have lost just one limited overs match this year.”
Ryan added: “It is about building season by season in the Championship.
“We have proved that we have got players in Oxfordshire who are able to compete in Minor Counties Cricket.”
Oxon’s victory over Wiltshire was based around Jonny Cater’s 101 not out in their 263-8 and then three wickets apiece from spinners Ryan and Richard West.
“It was great a win,” said Ryan.
“We really batted well. Hugo Darby and Nathan Hawkes set it up for Jonny Cater, who is in great form.
“A score of 260 was always going to be a lot of runs to get under pressure and so it proved.
“Wiltshire got off to a flier, but we managed to claw it back by taking pace off the ball.
“We stuck with it. It was important not to let our heads drop when they made such a good start.
“We could have easily been happy with 200 in our innings, but getting 260 put them under a bit more scoreboard pressure.”
He continued: “It may have been a blessing in disguise to have so many unavailabilities for the three-day games.
“It gave guys like Hugo Darby the chance to come in and secure his place.
“He will be really unlucky now if he misses out on playing in the final.”
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