Banbury pull it out the fire

BANBURY snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a one-run win against Oxford to complete a hat-trick of Bernard Tollett Oxfordshire Cup triumphs at Bicester & North Oxford yesterday.

Needing six from the last over to overtake Banbury’s 120-7, Oxford could muster only four to slump to an unlikely defeat.

Off-spinner Jimmy Phillips was Banbury’s hero as he bowled what must be one of the longest overs of his life.

With lengthy discussions over field placings, two conversations between the ump- ires and Oxford skipper Pat Jobson coming on to the pitch to get a message to his batsmen it only served to add to the tension.

But after conceding two singles off the first three balls and then bowling a wide, Phillips kept his nerve.

John Williams took a single off the next ball to leave Oxford effectively one run short of victory – as they had lost only four wickets and would have won by virtue of having lost fewer wickets if the scores were tied.

But Shamilal Mendis was unable to score off the penultimate ball.

And then when he played the last delivery out to short cover, Steve Beck returned it to Phillips at the bowler’s end to run out Mendis as he attempted to scramble in.

It was a dramatic end to the county’s Twenty20 finals day, and Oxford were left wondering how they had blown it.

With Adam Cook and Stewart Laudat getting them off to a lively start, before Simon Hole maintained the momen- tum with 43 off 38 balls, they looked to be in charge.

Hole was run out by Richard Kaufman’s throw from the boundary going for a third run as Luke Ryan and Paul Taylor kept Banbury in contention with tidy spells on a slow wicket.

Mendis struck some fine blows to take Oxford to the brink of victory until that fateful final over.

Earlier, Philip Evans’s spell had pegged back Banbury, who were put in after Oxford won the toss.

After skipper Benji Hector, in his farewell game before returning to South Africa today, and Craig Haupt put on 50 for the first wicket, Banbury slumped to 69-5.

The north Oxfordshire side were then indebted to a half-century partnership between Beck, with 33 off 21 balls, and Ollie Murrey as they posted a run-a-ball score.

Earlier in the day, Banbury beat Oxford Downs by seven wickets in the semi-finals with Kaufman taking 5-12, while Oxford swept Aston Rowant aside by eight wickets.

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