Jonny Cater played a captain’s innings to help Oxfordshire frustrate Suffolk on an intriguing opening day of the National Counties Championship final at Tring.
Cater made 56 from 110 balls to take Western Division champions Oxfordshire to 248 all out after they had been put in on a pitch that offered Suffolk’s seamers some early encouragement and showed early signs of taking spin.
Oxfordshire were 138 for five when seamer Joe Gatting had Olly Clarke caught behind then pinned Tom Cosford LBW in quick succession after lunch to break a threatening fourth wicket partnership of 65.
But Cater steadied things down in partnership with Ollie Currill, who played positively and contributed 25 to a seventh wicket stand of 39 before he was run out. Josh Cantrell checked a fierce straight drive and got up quickly to throw down the stumps at the striker’s end before Currill could regain his ground.
Left-hander Ollie Ebsworth-Burland, Oxfordshire’s match-winner when they ended Berkshire’s long unbeaten run in the competition last month, again batted confidently for his 33 at the top of the order.
The burly Cosford struck the ball hard with eight fours and a six in his 46 from 60 balls, but he missed out on a half century when he played across a slower ball from Gatting.
Cater and Gareth Andrew then added 45 for the eighth wicket before Andrew was taken by a sprawling Cantrell at deep midwicket off slow left-amer Jack Beaumont.
Cantrell eventually breached Cater’s defences after two-and-a-half hours at the crease, when he beat a defensive push and had him LBW.
Robbie Shurmer was bowled two balls later to give Beaumont his third wicket in the fifth in the innings to fall to spin.
Suffolk, playing in their first Championship final since 2005 having won the Eastern Division title, had 25 overs to face at the end of the day.
After a confident start, Beaumont pushed a low return catch to Shurmer and Kyran Young went LBW playing back to Andrew.
Play was twice stopped because of a low setting sun at the Town End of the ground which was in the line of vision of the batsmen which meant four overs were not bowled.
National Counties Championship final (day one of four)
Tring Park CC: Oxfordshire 248 (Jonny Cater 46), Suffolk 57-2.