FORMER England fast bowler Ajmal Shahzad has played his last game for Horspath, writes MICHAEL KNOX.

It was thought that Shahzad’’s release from his Sussex contract this week would allow him to play more often for the Home Counties Premier League Division 1 club. But that’s not the case.

“Quite the reverse,” said Horspath captain Will Eason.

“Aj is returning to his home in the north to see if he can extend his first-class career up there.

“It’s just not feasible for him to travel down from Bradford, so he won’t be playing for us any more.”

“Although he might have been disappointed by his performances for us, it was great to have him in the side. He showed us what we have to do to reach a higher standard.”

This news comes a fortnight after the departure of Rameez Raja, who has returned to Pakistan after breaking a finger.

Horspath are not rushing to fill the gaps.

“We are adopting a cautious approach,” said Eason. “We have players in our second team doing well, who deserve to be promoted.”

“We don’t want to upset things by bringing in a player, especially if it’s not going affect where we finish.”

One man moving up is Dominic O’Connor, who will make his first 1st XI league appearance for two seasons in the derby clash at Banbury tomorrow.

O’Connor, who has been scoring lots of runs for the 2nd XI, replaces Harrison Ward, who is nursing a groin strain.

In the other change from the side that beat Burnham, Ian Slatcher replaces Shahzad.

When the teams met in May, Banbury romped to a nine-wicket victory in what Eason describes as “our worst display of the season.”

Banbury, who drew with Tring Park last week, include promising leg-spinner Jamie Curtis in their 12.

Skipper Lloyd Sabin said: “The previous result counts for nothing. I expect a tight game.”

Oxford make one like-for-like change for their match at High Wycombe, following their narrow defeat at Finchampstead

Harvey Eltham, who misses the game through injury, is replaced by fellow spinner Chris Humphreys who returns from a hand injury.

“Although we’re sixth, we still reckon we’ve got a title chance as the league’s so tight,” said Oxford skipper John Barrett.

Great & Little Tew, who are bottom, bring in Tom Price for Curtly Slatter for their match at home to Slough.

Skipper Harry Smith said: “We need to step up after last week’s eight-wicket defeat by Henley, but it’s a tough league.”

Charlie Brain, the Shipton-under-Wychwood captain, criticised the attitude of his batsmen, after their disastrous display against Division 2 leaders Aston Rowant last week.

In an unprecedented collapse, the first five Shipton batsmen out all made ducks – there were a total of seven in the innings – as they slipped to a seven-wicket defeat.

“I was disappointed with our application against the swinging ball,” he said

“It’s a long game, and batsman have got to show some nous and not swing the bat from the first ball.

“Wes Morrick (who took the first five wickets) is a good swing bowler and you have respect him.”

One player exempt from criticism was opener Simon Hole, who carried his bat for 53 not out in a total of 108.

“Simon showed how it should be done, although he did run me out,” joked Brain

Shipton make two changes for the match at home to Harefield, with batsman Andy Hemming and spinner Tom Swann replacing Ian Harris and Shaun Miller.

Aston Rowant skipper Josh Smith admits his side will strengthen their promotion bid if they can win away to their nearest rivals Datchet.

“It’s a big game and if we win it, we could go on to do great things,” said Smith.

Rowant make two enforced changes, with batsmen Dan Matthews and Chris Watling unavailable. Vishane Perera and Sasha Barras come into the side.

Thame Town, who lost to Datchet last week, make one change for the trip to Buckingham, with Will Rooney replacing Mike Higgs, who has family commitments.

“The teams are well-balanced, so it should be a close game,” said Thame captain Michael Beard.


Banbury (v Horspath, h): from Sabin (capt), Haupt, Hill, West, Hawtin, Wright, Taylor, Cheema, Clarke, Phillips, Wilkins, Curtis.

Horspath (v Banbury, a): W Eason (capt) Coleman, R Eason, Fitzjohn, Jefferson, O’Connor, Green, Faruk, Belcher, Cosford, Slatcher.

Oxford (v High Wycombe, a): Barrett (capt) Tong-Jones, Perkin, Ayub, Mendis, Beer, Fallah, Musk, Humphreys, Clough, Charlesworth.

Great & Little Tew (v Slough, h): Smith (capt), White, Jordan Garrett, Lloyd Brock, Harris, Lawrence Brock, Price, Manley, Thomas, Adams, Shurmer.

Aston Rowant (v Datchet, away): Smith (capt), Perera, McDougall, Morrick, Pendered, Bethell, Barras, Muttitt, Harris, Condon, Jewell.

Thame Tn (v Buckingham Tn, away): Beard (capt), C Russell, Sutcliffe, Kanishka, Straughan, Adams, Phippen, Mushtaq, Jeffcock, A Russell, Rooney.

Shipton-u-Wychwood (v Harefield, home): Brain (capt), A Hemming, Wood, C Miller, Hole, Sanklecha, Davies, Cross, S Harris, Brown, Swann.