CRICKET MATTERS Oxfordshire have title in sights

NCCA-Logo MasterOxfordshire are closing in on their first National Counties Championship title since 1989 after dominating the third day of the four-day final against Suffolk at Tring. 

Solid batting down the order extended Oxfordshire’s lead to 346 despite the efforts of Suffolk captain, slow left-armer Jack Beaumont, who took five for 59. 

Suffolk then ran into trouble against Oxfordshire’s seamers and were eight for three inside the first ten overs of their second innings. 

Suffolk eventually limped to 13 for three at the close, still needing 334 to prevent the title being won by a Western Division county for the fifth season running. 

Oxfordshire’s second innings included six scores of 50 or more yet the highest score was 38 by opener Ollie Ebsworth-Burland and Gareth Andrew. 

Every batsman reached double figures and those handy contributions down the order enabled Western Division champions Oxfordshire to build their lead into an imposing one. 

The one partnership of significance was 55 for the ninth wicket between Andrew and Robbie Shurmer, who batted sensibly before Andrew was caught at slip just before tea. 

Shurmer, with support from last man Max Mannering, extended Oxfordshire’s resistance for 11 overs after the interval before Shurmer was LBW to give Beaumont his fifth wicket and career-best Championship figures. 

Beaumont then faced the task of trying to see Suffolk through 13 overs to the close without alarm. Instead he perished to a loose drive in the second over off Shurmer. 

Andrew then had Darren Ironside LBW for a four-ball duck and when Ollie Currill replaced Shurmer he knocked back Alex Oxley’s middle stump with his sixth ball. 

Having successfully chased 370 to defeat Staffordshire in their final Eastern Division match, Suffolk will need some more unlikely last day heroics if they are to win their first title outright since 1979. 

National Counties Championship final (day three of four) 

Tring Park: Oxfordshire 248 (Jonny Cater 56) & 311 (Jack Beaumont 5-59), Suffolk 213 & 13-3. 

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