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National Counties T20 Finals Day review

22 May 2022
National Counties T20 Finals Day review

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 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. 

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. 

Semi-finals  

Ollie Currill propelled Oxfordshire into the final with a remarkable bowling performance against Cheshire in the opening semi-final. 

Currill took seven for 12 in his four overs with his last five wickets being claimed in just eight balls. 

Cheshire, who appeared to be cruising to a target of 157 when they 92 for two in the twelfth over imploded spectacularly, losing their last seven wickets for 21 and were beaten by 20 runs. 

Currill, who plays his club cricket for Leamington, varied his pace intelligently and was well-supported by excellent catching, three taken by Ollie Price including a brilliant one-handed effort at mid-on to dismiss Andrew Jackson. 

Price also had the dangerous Will Evans LBW for 26 and contributed 30 at the top of the order in an excellent all round effort. 

Price’s brother Tom also made 30 which provided late impetus to a competitive total against tight Cheshire bowling. 

The Price brothers were joined in Oxfordshire’s side by their Gloucestershire team-mate Luke Charlesworth and the Sussex pair of Harrison Ward and James Coles, all products of their home county’s youth system. 

Cambridgeshire’s six wickets win over Dorset in the second semi-final was more straightforward and less dramatic. 

Tight bowling, led by captain Callum Guest’s two for 12 in four overs of miserly off-spin, restricted Dorset to 133 for five. 

There were useful contributions from former Somerset opener Sam Young, Hampshire all-rounder Tom Prest and David Scott but Alex Eckland’s 30 was the top score. 

Cambridgeshire had no need to hurry and the pace their chase to perfection with opener Jack Potticary laying the foundations with 39 from 26 balls. 

Wayne White, the former Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lancashire all-rounder, weighed in with a breezy 24 but it was Noah Cain who caught the eye. 

The 17-year-old from The Leys School played a composed match-clinching innings of 39 not out which saw Cambridgeshire home with nine balls  to spare 

National  Counties T20 Finals Day 

Tring Park 

Semi-finals 

Oxfordshire 156 (Andrew Jackson 3-37), Cheshire 136 (Ollie Currill 7-12). Oxfordshire won by 20 runs. 

Dorset 133-5, Cambridgeshire 134-4 (Noah Thain 39 not out). Cambridgeshire won by six wickets. 

Final 

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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