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CRICKET: Horspath double up as Skelton slays Tew
BERNARD TOLLETT OXFORDSHIRE CUP
MARK Skelton fired Horspath to a maiden county title with an eight-wicket victory over Great & Little Tew at Oxford Downs.
Skelton scored 67 not out from 33 balls as Horspath chased down Tew’s 134-8 with 2.3 overs to spare.
Normally a lower middle order batsman when he appears for the club’s first team, Skelton (pictured) had hit 85 on the same ground the previous day for Horspath 2nd.
This and his combative style prompted captain Will Eason to promote him to No 3 and Skelton did not disappoint.
Horspath, therefore, completed an excellent double, having comfortably won the Cherwell League title for a second time in four seasons.
Tew opted to bat first after winning the toss and got off to a flier, with openers Harry Smith and Joe White taking the score to 48-0 off five overs.
This appeared the platform for a really big score, but the 2012 Cherwell League champions failed to build on it against this year’s winners.
Tew were still 81-2 off ten overs, but collapsed badly after Shahbaz Ali bowled Curtly Slatter to make it 91-3.
That soon became 105-7 as Robbie Catling, Josh Garrett, Lloyd Brock and Ashley Hubbert fell in quick succession.
Lloyd Belcher, Horspath’s 14-year-old left-arm spinner, played a key role, with his spell of 2-18, impressing in tandem with the experienced Paul Jeacock.
A few quick runs from skipper Andy Harris helped Tew close on 134-8, but it meant they needed to bowl superbly to have a chance of victory.
Robbie Eason and Jimmy Phillips began Horspath’s reply in aggressive fashion, but the scoreboard went into overdrive when Skelton came in at No 3.
Skelton had to ride his luck to fend off some short stuff from Liam Manley before forming a match-winning partnership with Ali, who backed up a useful bowling display with a well-crafted 28 not out.
The introduction of spinners Ian Bryan and White did stem the flow of runs.
But Horspath were always in control and it was fitting that Skelton should hit the winning runs with a four through the covers.
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