Banbury’s Home Counties Premier Cricket League title charge received a big setback after they lost by nine runs against fellow challengers High Wycombe.
Returning skipper Nathan Hawkes led his side to victory in the division one fixture at White Post Road as Wycombe went top after leaders Henley lost against Burnham. There are still only nine points between the top three teams with two games remaining with Wycombe going to the champions on the final day.
Captain Luke Ryan inserted the visitors but opener Adam Hose 47 and Paul Sawyer took Wycombe on to 63-2 before Hawkes came to the crease.
Hawkes hit eight fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 80 runs from 98 balls while Russell Curzon-Tompson added a useful 30 runs as Wycombe posted 226-9. Ryan finished with an impressive 5-30 but that was to prove in vain.
Hugo Darby was soon heading back to the pavilion and fellow opener Tim Paine, in his final game for Banbury, could only make 23 runs before he followed. The top order again failed to fire in the absence of Paine with Lloyd Sabin and Ed Phillips soon departing as Banbury were reduced to 53-4.
Richard West and Chad Keegan steadied the ship and took Banbury on to 184-6. Keegan hit four fours and four sixes in a whirlwind 58 runs off just 54 balls while West made a patient 53 to put the outcome back in the balance.
But once those two departed wickets tumbled and Banbury were dismissed in the 50th over despite a gutsy unbeaten 25 from Karl Penhale as Kyle Simmonds picked up 5-27.