OXFORDSHIRE’S chairman of selectors Ian Hawtin has issued a stinging criticism of players who fail to make themselves available for county matches.

He spoke out after struggling to raise a side for their Unicorns Counties Championship Western Division match against Dorset at Banbury, which starts on Sunday.

The county were yesterday able to name only nine players for the clash – without a captain, as regular leader Jonny Cater is on holiday.

A frustrated Hawtin said: “I was the first to advocate that we should bring young, local players into the side – supported by one experienced professional.

“But many make themselves unavailable for various reasons. So I’m afraid we will have to go down a different route to get a side out.”

He is proposing to re-institute the policy from two years ago when Oxon called up players from their coaching link with Sussex to fill vacancies.

“This is not something I wanted to to do, but there is no alternative,” he said.

“I find it amazing that young, local players don’t want to play for county sides – and by this I also mean our one-day teams and 2nd XI.

Hawtin also bemoaned the poor level of league cricket.

“Since the Hertfordshire League left the Home Counties Premier League, standards have fallen


“The county has five teams in the top division, but the standard of cricket is not what it should be.”

Two young players will be making their Championship debuts against Dorset, although both have played in one-day games for the


Great & Little Tew all-rounder Tom Price and Aston Rowant seamer Alex Chapman, both products of Oxfordshire’s youth development scheme, have a chance to shine.

Having lost their first game to Berkshire, Oxon will be keen to set the record straight against Dorset.

Oxfordshire (v Dorset): R Kaufman (Old Northamptonians), G Andrew (Ombersley), O Clarke (Banbury), H Smith, J Thomas, T Price (all Great Tew), C Russell (Thame Tn), B Taylor (Banbury), A Chapman (Aston Rowant), AN Other, AN Other.