JAMIE Perkin believes Oxford face their biggest challenge yet when they make the short trip to Henley tomorrow.

The Home Counties Premier League Division 1 leaders, who top the table by virtue of suffering fewer defeats, head to the Brakspear Ground targeting a third win in a row after beating Horspath by 59 runs six days ago.

Their next challenge is five-time champions Henley, whose home form took a dent when they lost to Finchampstead a fortnight ago.

However, vice-captain Perkin, who is unavailable this weekend, is expecting Oxford to find it tough.

He said: “It’s been a good start, but this week will probably be our biggest challenge.

“Henley are predominantly the toughest task, they’re always very strong at home.

“It will be a difficult challenge, but hopefully we can stand up and continue our performance from last week.”

Tomorrow’s game will be the first under the timed format, which does not restrict the number of overs players can bowl.

Perkin is unsure if the change from the 50-over game will benefit Oxford, but has praised spinner Chris Humphreys, who has taken nine wickets this season.

He said: “Last week Chris and Shami (Mendis) with the ball were looking very good.

“Chris, in particular, has been outstanding for us, probably our best bowler.”

Perkin added: “We’ve got five really good bowlers who will all get a good bowl in the longer format.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

Mendis is also unavailable, but captain John Barrett and Ian Crosby return.

Will Eason is urging Horspath to bounce back at home to bottom side Tring Park.

The reigning Division 2 champions fell to their second defeat of the campaign, but are only seven points behind Oxford.

Eason said: “Last week was disappointing with the result and the performance.

“We didn’t play well enough to win the game, but we’ve got to move on.

“We can’t dwell on it.”

He added: “The league is so compact at the minute.

“It’s still really tight and over the next few weeks, with the longer format, it might start playing out how teams are shaping up for the season.”

Horspath are forced into two changes, with Stephen Green and Andy Roberts, who will take over the gloves from Robbie Eason, replacing Pat Foster and Harrison Ward, who are both unavailable.

Lloyd Sabin insists he is not disheartened by Banbury’s recent results as they host Slough bidding to end a two-match winless run.

The north Oxfordshire side fell to a seven-wicket defeat to Burnham last weekend.

Banbury struggled for runs as they were restricted to 178-7 from their 50 overs.

Sabin said: “I was actually quite pleased with how we performed against Burnham, but we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit and got off to a slow start.”

The skipper is forced to make three changes for tomorrow, with Jamie Curtis, Ollie Clarke and Will Hawtin unavailable.

Richard West, Ed Phillips and Jack Lambden come in to the side.

The captain added: “I back the players to perform every week.

“We’ve got a much-changed team which is a shame.

“But I’m still backing the players who are coming in to do a good job.”

Great & Little Tew face High Wycombe at home.


Oxford (v Henley, away): Tong-Jones, Eltham, Ayub, Beer, Musk, Fallah, Humphreys, Sadiqi, Muir, Barrett, Crosby.

Horspath (v Tring Park, home): R Eason, Coleman, Shahzad, Cosford, Fitzjohn, W Eason, Slatcher, Faruk, Belcher, Green, Roberts.

Banbury (v Slough, home): Haupt, Sabin, Hill, Megson, Wilkins, Wright, Taylor, Cheema, West, Phillips, Lambden.

CAPTAIN Josh Smith says he is not surprised by Aston Rowant’s brilliant start in Division 2.

The leaders travel to second-placed Amersham tomorrow, bidding to record their fifth victory in six matches.

Hendrick Robyns, Alex Jewell and Tom Condon starred with the bat as Rowant beat Chesham last week.

And Smith, who returns to the XI in place of Oliver Shaw, insists his side’s early form is not a shock to him.

He said: “It’s been a long time coming, it’s not a surprise to me.

“We’ve got 11 very good cricketers who can win a game which makes a huge difference.

“What’s been nice is we’ve won games from losing positions, so that shows a sign of maturity in the side.”

Charlie Brain is keeping his fingers crossed the longer format will suit Shipton-under-Wychwood as his side travel to Datchet.

The west Oxfordshire club have struggled in their opening five matches and sit third from bottom.

But the switch from the 50-over game to the timed format, where players are not limited to the number of overs they can bowl, could suit Shipton.

Captain Brain is hoping all-rounder Anupam Sanklecha will benefit.

He said: “The longer format game might suit us a little bit.

“Pam can bowl more, but it will be a hard game especially at Datchet.”

Simon Hole and Andy Hemming are unavailable, so Craig Wood will open the batting, while Adi Rai returns.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ian Harris replaces Joe Cockroft.

Thame Town are targeting a third win in a row as they host Harefield.

Back-to-back victories have lifted the club up to fifth in the table and captain Michael Beard is optimistic of continuing that run.

He said: “We go into it with a lot of confidence.

“The timed games favour us slightly more and it’s a good opportunity to get three wins in a row and go on towards the top of the league.”

James Adams and Richard Straughan come in for the unavailable Mike Higgs and Chris Jeffcock, who drops down to the second XI.


Aston Rowant (v Amersham, away): Jewell, Condon, McDougall, Robyns, Watling, Pendered, Morrick, Bethell, Muttitt, Penhale, Smith.

Shipton-under-Wychwood (v Datchet, away): Brain, C Miller, Sanklecha, Cross, Davies, Lewis, S Harris, S Miller, Wood, Rai, I Harris.

Thame Tn (v Harefield, home): C Russell, Thomas, Sutcliffe, Kanishka, Beard, Mushtaq, A Russell, Rooney, Phippen, Adams, Straughan.

ASTON Rowant travel to Cumnor in the Oxfordshire final of the Pipers Crisps Village Cup on Sunday.