CRICKET: Ryan looks to strike balance for buoyant Oxon

Jonny Cater, in the runs against Buckinghamshire, which preserved Oxon’s perfect record ahead of the trip to Herefordshire  Picture: Damian Halliwell Order no: OX67106

Jonny Cater, in the runs against Buckinghamshire, which preserved Oxon’s perfect record ahead of the trip to Herefordshire Picture: Damian Halliwell Order no: OX67106

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 believes Oxfordshire are playing well enough to defeat any Minor Counties opponent.

But as Oxon prepare for Sunday’s Unicorns Trophy Group 4 clash with Herefordshire at Eastnor, the skipper warned they must keep their feet on the ground.

Ryan has named an unchanged XI to face their fellow unbeaten side, knowing that victory will seal top spot and the bonus of a home quarter-final.

“The way we are playing at the moment, I think we could beat any Minor Counties side,” he said.

“We are very confident, but are trying hard to keep people from complacency.”

Unbeaten Oxon secured a place in the knockout stages after Sunday’s 39-run victory over Bucks and Berkshire’s 154-run defeat against Staffordshire.

That win featured 68 from Jonny Cater and 53 from Chad Keegan, while Ryan took 3-47.

“It’s very difficult to change a winning side,” said Ryan.

“We are three from three now. Unlike last year, the performances are a lot more convincing and everyone is in a really good place.

“Particularly with the ball, the bowlers know their games really well, where they want to bowl and what fields they want to set.

“It’s quite easy to captain at the moment.

“We are able to exert quite a lot of pressure and defend totals.”

A notable feature of Oxon’s success has been lower-order runs, with Keegan, Ryan and Ashley Blanchard all cashing in against Bucks.

“We do have a long batting line-up,” said Ryan.

“Ashley Blanchard coming in at No 9 is really useful and Chad Keegan is floating around the order as he is quite explosive.

“But it is the guys at the top of the order that take the shine off the new ball and give us a platform to go for it.”

Ryan picked out all-rounder and Sussex triallist Bradley Wadlan as one of Herefordshire’s dangermen, while they included ex-Oxon seamer Daniel Rowe in their opening victory over Staffordshire.

“They have got some really good players and are two wins from two,” said Ryan.

“Bradley is useful with the ball and can be quite destructive with the bat.”

Oxfordshire: Ryan (capt), Blanchard, Cater (all Banbury), Kaufman (Old Northamptonians), Keegan (Henley), Manley (Banbury), Penhale (Aston Rowant), Sabin (Banbury), Shirazi, Watling (both Aston Rowant), West (Banbury).

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