Minor Counties Championship

Oxfordshire were shot out for 54 in their second innings to crash to a 135-run defeat against Cheshire in their Western Division opener at Great & Little Tew.

Resuming on 105-5 in reply to Cheshire’s first innings 233, Oxon battled their way to 239 for a six-run lead.

They then bowled Cheshire out for 195 second-time around with skipper Luke Ryan taking 5-73 to complete a ten-wicket haul in the match, while fellow left-arm spinner Francois Vainker picked up 4-73.

That left Oxfordshire needing 190 for victory, but they were blown away by paceman Adam Syddall (6-23) and left-arm spinner Dan Woods (4-31) inside 19 overs.

Their paltry second-innings total wasn’t the county’s lowest as it surpassed the 33 Oxon succumbed for against Bucks at High Wycombe in 1925.

The procession began with Michael Beard being caught off Syddall’s third ball by Danny Cranmer at second slip.

And Oxon were 0-2 when Woods had Damian Shirazi caught at first slip by Rick Moore.

David Smith hit Woods to Jack Williams at mid-off, before Robbie Eason was adjudged lbw for the second time in the game, this time to Syddall.

Seventeen-year-old Curtly Slatter’s miserable debut was completed with a pair, bowled first ball by the rampant Syddall to leave Oxon 16-5.

Ryan was trapped lbw by Woods, while Cater fell to a catch at mid off by Williams off Syddall, who then had Penhale caught by Jonny Kettle – the second Oxon player to pick up a pair.

Vainker fell lbw to Woods, and Matt Woods became Syddall’s sixth victim, with Chris Tipper taking the catch, as the match finished inside two days at 6.50pm. Earlier, Ryan had been the first of 25 wickets to fall in the day, failing to add to his overnight 12 before being caught by Moore in the slips of off-spinner Williams.

Vainker and Penhale also perished to Williams, who finished with 6-80, and Oxon were in the mire at 129-8.

But Geeson-Brown put on 50 for the ninth wicket with Cater, who was caught at deep mid-wicket by Khalid Sawas off Woods for 61 off 101 balls, with eight fours and two sixes.

Woods joined Geeson-Brown (30no) in the fightback with a run a ball 40, before he was caught and bowled by Woods (4-35), with the pair putting on 60 runs for the last wicket.

With the pitch increasingly taking turn, Oxon’s opening attack featured the rare sight of two left-arm spinners in tandem as Ryan and Vainker laid the challenge down to the Cheshire batsmen.

However, it was third change seamer Geeson-Brown, who made the breakthrough when he had Kettle caught by Shirazi at point with the score on 58.

But from then on the spinners dominated. Vainker had Moore caught by Eason in the slips and Ryan trapped Warren Goodwin lbw.

Oxfordshire’s captain then bowled Tipper for 78 to make it 141-4, before catching Sawas off Vainker without any additiion to the score.

Vainker then knocked back Scott Kirwin’s stumps, and Ryan did likewise with Cranmer.

With Ryan winning lbw decisions against Williams and Dan Berry, and Vainker claiming Syddall’s wicket in similar fashion the innings was all over.

But then Oxon collapsed in dramatic fashion.

Scores: Cheshire 233 & 195 (C Tipper 78, L Ryan 5-73), Oxfordshire 239 (J Cater 61, J Williams 6-80) & 54 (A Syddall 6-23). Cheshire won by 135 runs.