A SPARKLING half-century from Delray Rawlins was the highlight of a rain-shortened first day in Oxfordshire’s Unicorns Counties Championship match against Berkshire at Challow & Childrey yesterday.

Only 63.2 overs of play was possible in the Western Division match, during which the hosts struggled to reach 166-7.

Rawlins was one of two players from Sussex picked for the game under a special arrangement that Oxon have with the first-class county.

However, the other player – Ollie Robinson – was required by Sussex.

So Tom Condon, who scored a century for Aston Rowant the previous day, was called up in his place.

Despite the recent wet weather, the pitch was dry and Oxon skipper Jonny Cater opted to bat first.

The county’s policy this season has been to try to bat 90 overs, and this combined with some tight Berkshire bowling, meant the innings got off to a slow start.

Lloyd Sabin took 30 balls over his six, before he was bowled by Andrew Rushden.

Condon batted 79 minutes for his 16, before being caught at point off the left-arm spin of Chris Peploe.

Rawlins upped the tempo and dominated a third-wicket stand of 75 with Jordan Garrett.

He had made 60 from 77 balls, including a straight six off Peploe, before he was caught behind off Tom Nugent.

Two overs later, Garrett departed in similar fashion for 26.

Skipper Cater batted determinedly, despite the loss of wickets at the other end.

Richard Kaufman departed cheaply, while James Fitzjohn was run out after being sent back, attempting a leg bye.

Ollie Clarke became Nugent’s third victim just before rain, which had caused two previous short delays, returned at 4.15 to end play for the day, with Cater unbeaten on 21.