Bicester & North Oxford 1st XI were unable to build on their victory the previous week as they lost out to table-topping Oxford Downs in their Cherwell League Division 3 match last Saturday.
Asked by the visitors to bat first, Bicester had to work hard for runs, especially against the evergreen Steve Roberts. Roberts, the leading wicket-taker in the Division, bowled unchanged to take 2-44 from a mammoth spell of 26 overs.
The Bicester innings had begun briskly with Shiv Talsania looking in excellent form but once he fell for 26, shortly after last week’s centurion Nick Moorman had gone for six, run-scoring was at a premium.
Iain Horner and Michael Simpson added 60 for the third wicket in 21 overs before Horner was adjudged leg before wicket for 24. Richard Simpson (17) and Darren Bartlett (15) brought much-needed impetus to the innings in the closing overs as Michael Simpson brought up a well-deserved fifty to end on 58 not out as Bicester closed on 168-6.
Defending 168 against Downs’ powerful batting line-up was always likely to be a tall order and so it proved. Mark Wingfield-Digby and Oliver Bailey added 92 for the first wicket with Cambridgeshire minor counties player Bailey looking especially classy.
Bicester skipper Steve Conway removed Bailey leg before wicket for 52 in his first over although the score had moved on to 138 when Wingfield-Digby fell in the same fashion to Richard Simpson for 44. J
ames Ellwood struck a fluent 33 before being caught at slip off Simpson and it was left to George Sandbach (24 not out) to steer Downs to victory with just over fourovers remaining.