CRICKET: Ryan backs debut duo to make mark

New Oxfordshire opening batsmen Shabaz Alam

New Oxfordshire opening batsmen Shabaz Alam

First published in Sport The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

Luke Ryan is backing Liam Manley and Shabaz Alam to shine on their competitive Oxfordshire debuts.

The pair are selected for Oxon’s Group 4 opener against Berkshire at Bicester & North Oxford CC on Sunday (11).

Banbury left-arm seamer Manley and Leamington opening batsman Alam, from Cowley, join a side captain Ryan says are “a stronger unit” than last yeat.

“Liam only started playing competitive cricket when he was 15 or 16,” said Ryan.

“He had a fantastic season for Great Tew last year and has now come back to Banbury.

“He has trained really, really hard over the winter and has really impressed.”

Karl Penhale plays his first one-day game for Oxon, while fellow seamer Chad Keegan comes in for his seasonal debut. Batsman Richard Kaufman and seamer Matt Woods are unavailable.

Alam scored 671 runs in the Birmingham League last year.

Ryan added: “Shabaz has come through the Oxfordshire ranks. He has played well for the academy for the last couple of years.

“He has got as many if not more runs than the other young batsmen around.”

Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Bucks complete Group 4.

Ryan said: “The goal is to progress to the knock-out stage.

“In the three-day matches, the goal will be to bat the 90 overs.”

Oxfordshire: Ryan (Banbury, capt), Alam (Leamington), Blanchard, Cater (both Banbury), Keegan (unatt), Manley (Banbury), Penhale (Aston Rowant), Perkin (Oxford), Sabin (Banbury), Watling (Aston Rowant).

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