CAPTAIN Jonny Cater is backing Oxfordshire’s young guns to step up to the plate in their season opener against Cornwall on Sunday.
The wicket-keeper skippers the side in a competitive match for the first time since taking over from Luke Ryan.
Oxon were beaten in all their 50-over matches last year and have lost valuable experience after Chad Keegan’s retirement.
The side to face Cornwall still includes seasoned campaigners like Ryan, but four rising stars will make their senior one-day debuts in the Unicorns Counties Trophy Group 1 clash at Banbury.
Harrison Ward, who became the youngest player to score a century for Oxon in a Unicorns Counties Championship game against Herefordshire in 2015, Olly Clarke, Jordan Garrett and Harvey Eltham are selected.
The quartet have all played in the three-day format in the past and Cater is backing them to impress.
He said: “These are four really promising and talented players who are trying to make it far in the game.
“It’s a big transitional phase.
“It’s an opportunity for me to allow the younger guys to step up and give them a springboard to play even higher.
“But we will pick our side based on the fact we want to win as many games as possible.”
Cater added: “There’s no pressure on them to perform.
“They will perform because they will think there’s nothing to lose.
“It can go the other way, but it’s up to us to support those players through thick and thin and give them opportunities whether that’s at minor counties level or back at their clubs.
“They can be selected again and we can see what they have learnt.”
Oxon used 19 different players across three friendlies over Easter.
Cater stressed back-to-back defeats to Sussex Academy and a 55-run loss against Buckinghamshire were secondary to seeing how his players responded under pressure.
He said: “Sunday’s team is based on those three games and the balance of the side.
“We felt everyone had a fair crack of the whip going into this game.”
Cater added: “Cornwall are notoriously strong. I’m sure it will be a cracker.”
J Cater (Buckingham Town) capt, O Clarke (Banbury), H Eltham (Oxford), J Garrett (Great & Little Tew), R Kaufman (Old Northamptonians), K Penhale (Aston Rowant), L Ryan (Spencer), L Sabin (Banbury), H Ward (Horspath), R West (Banbury), O Wright (Banbury).