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Oxfordshire win National Counties T20 title

Oxfordshire added the National Counties T20 title to the three-day National Counties Championship they won last September with a thrilling two wickets win over Cambridgeshire in a tense final at Tring Park. 

A superb 84 from Sussex's Harrison Ward, one of five homegrown players who are now contracted to first-class counties in Oxfordshire’s side, got them most of the way to a target of 170 – the highest score of Finals Day. 

Sussex all-rounder also played a vital role in the victory, as he took three wickets to stem Cambridge's flow of runs and limiting them to 169-9.

But the departure of Ward and Tom Price off successive balls from the experienced Wayne White brought Cambridgeshire right back into the match. 

White then had Ollie Currill, whose remarkable bowling figures of seven for 12 had clinched the semi-final win over Cheshire, caught in the deep after he had clobbered 19 from ten balls. 

Oxfordshire needed eight from the final over but George Tait settled any nerves with two boundaries off the first balls from Tim Moses to start the celebrations. 

“We had set our sights on trying to win a white ball competition because, if we are honest with ourselves, in the past we haven’t done ourselves justice in our white ball campaigns,” said Oxfordshire captain Jonny Cater. 

“To execute our skills when it matters and chase down that score on a third game pitch was unbelievable and I’m over-joyed. 

“The lads who are now with first-class counties deserve it as much as anyone else. These guys have committed themselves to our pathway from the age of eight and nine years of age. 

“This is all about them as well but the guys who have played all the way through the campaign have been unbelievable.” 

Although Oxfordshire’s success was very much a team effort Cater highlighted Currill’s bowling in the semi-final and Ward’s innings in the final as key to winning the first silverware of the season. 

“It takes special performances in T20 cricket and it takes one person to turn a game round. Ollie’s seven wickets in a T20 match is unheard of and remarkable,” Cater said. 

“Then Harrison Ward with another great innings in the final. I think that he was gutted that he couldn’t finish the job but he gave us the platform for George Tait to get those two boundaries at the end. 

“Wining trophies is what it’s all about but we are also seeing our players develop and we are giving opportunities for them to perform. 

“When we are together we are a tight-knit group and it’s a pleasure to play every weekend with these guys. 

“We have had some difficult matches this year and even then we were close and tight-knit. This is a very special group of lads.” 

Cambridgeshire’s total owed much to Jack Potticary’s half century which appeared to have laid the foundations for an even bigger one. 

But Oxfordshire managed to apply some control in the second half of the innings with James Coles, who is on Sussex’s staff alongside Ward, taking three key wickets with his left-arm spin. 

Result

Cambridgeshire 169-9 (Jack Potticary 58, James Coles 3-14), Oxfordshire 170-8 (Harrison Ward 84, Wayne White 3-36). Oxfordshire won by two wickets. 

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