JOHN Barrett is looking forward to having variety in his bowling attack when the top-two face off in Division 1 tomorrow.

Oxford moved up to second last week with victory over Horspath and now host leaders Henley at Jordan Hill Sports Ground.

Barrett’s side have an ideal opportunity to close the gap at the top of the Home Counties Premier League and the captain is boosted by having a full attack at his disposal.

This week marks the return of the 50-over format, which means no player can bowl more than one fifth of the total allowed.

Samad Fallah, Chris Humphreys, Harvey Eltham, Shami Mendis and Richard Musk have all performed well, taking 115 wickets between them, this year.

And Barrett is delighted to have a plethora of seam and spin bowlers available.

He said: “We have pretty much a full contingent of bowling options, which we’ve not had all season.

“It gives you more variety.

“We’re bowling well and it’s promising we have options available to us.”

With 20 points on offer for the victor, tomorrow’s match is the perfect opportunity for Oxford to put themselves in serious contention for the title and close the gap to Henley which currently stands at 26.

Barrett added: “It’s really tight up there, like it has been all season.

“Obviously, Henley are still favourites, but we’re in good form and we go there full of confidence – who knows, we will back ourselves.”

Oxford name a squad of 12, with Freddie Simon returning, while Eltham is back from his ban as they replace Ian Crosby and Alex Morgan.

Will Eason is urging Horspath to shake off last week’s defeat as they travel to Tring Park bidding to ease their relegation fears.

The Oxford Road-based club find themselves 11 points above the danger zone with four matches remaining.

With Horspath still to face Slough and Great & Little Tew, who are below Eason’s side, the skipper is fully aware they need to step up.

He said: “Without being overly pessimistic, we’ve not had a week where we’ve not been looking over our shoulders.

“I’ve never felt at any stage we were safe, even three or four weeks ago.

“When we’ve lost, we’ve lost badly, not picked up many points, we’ve not helped ourselves in that way.”

He added: “In the final four games we’ve got three teams that are just below us – our fate is in our own hands to a certain degree.

“But we’ve got to put in better performances starting this week, the guys know that, I know that – we’ve got to pick ourselves up.”

Horspath make two changes, with Mark Skelton and Adam Krol coming in for Tom Coleman and Lloyd Belcher, who are both unavailable.

Banbury travel to Slough, while Tew take on High Wycombe.


Oxford (v Henley, home): from Tong-Jones, Charlesworth, Perkin, Ayub, Mendis, Beer, Musk, Fallah, Humphreys, Barrett, Simon, Eltham.

Horspath (v Tring Park, away): Stead, Fitzjohn, R Eason, Cosford, Jefferson, Green, W Eason, Faruk, Slatcher, Skelton, Krol.

MICHAEL Beard believes chasing down a Division 2 promotion spot is still achievable for Thame Town.

They head into tomorrow’s game at Harefield in fourth and seven points behind second-placed Datchet.

Thame still have to face the top three, but Beard remains level-headed about his side’s chances.

He said: “It’s definitely achievable, we’re probably looking at winning three of the last four games, given we have quite a tough run-in.

“The top two are probably the two best sides in the league, you would expect Rowant to carry on and win the league and it depends how Datchet go.

“But if we lose to Harefield we can probably say bye to it.”

Chris Jeffcock and Harry Thomas replace Adam Phippen and Andy Russell.

Charlie Brain is calling on Shipton-under-Wychwood to end the season on a high after securing their safety.

The west Oxfordshire side are now an unassailable 91 points above the relegation zone.

With four games remaining, captain Brain, who welcomes Ian Lewis and Craig Wood back into the team, is hoping to switch things up a bit, especially with the shorter format returning for the visit of Datchet.

He said: “We had a bad game on Saturday but, putting things into perspective, we’re safe with four games to go.

“It’s a decent achievement compared to the sort of team we had last year.

“We’ll try to end on a high, get a couple of wins.

“I’m not expecting to win all four games, but we’ll give people a chance to play some cricket and contribute.”

Leaders Aston Rowant host Amersham.


Thame Tn (v Harefield, away): C Russell, Sutcliffe, Kanishka, Beard, Straughan, Mushtaq, Rooney, Adams, Higgs, Jeffcock, Thomas.

Shipton-under-Wychwood (v Datchet, home): Hole, C Miller, Davies, Sanklecha, Cross, Brain, S Miller, Champion, Harris, Wood, Lewis.