Courageous Cunningham cages Lyon
More than 1,000 spectators crammed into the Nursery Ground on Sunday to see Oxfordshire snatch a thrilling last-ball victory over Lancashire in the final of the ECB 50+ County Championship.
Alec Cunningham was Oxfordshire's hero, holding his nerve to bowl Howard Lyon with Lancashire needing three runs off the final ball.
On a day of firsts - Lord's had never hosted the final and Oxfordshire had not ventured this far - the famous ground was bathed in sunshine as Lancashire attempted to win their fifth championship.
Oxfordshire had other ideas but they were soon up against it when, having won the toss and elected to bat, they found themselves in the mire at 53 for six.
John Punchard was the scourge of the Oxfordshire batsmen, bowling his full allotment of nine overs to return slendid figures of 2-14 with four maidens.
Oxfordshire captain Andrew Wingfield-Digby joined Adrian Manger and the pair added a much needed 72 runs for the seventh wicket.
Manger went past fifty with a six before battering 25 off his next 11 balls to give the innings some late impetus.
He was eventually caught on the boundary as Oxfordshire, with Rob Willis adding some valuable runs at the death, finished on 186 for eight - still some way short of what is regarded a par score.
Lancashire began their reply in steady fashion but a double strike from Wingfield-Digby left the red rose county 34 for two after 16 overs.
Lancashire kicked on, adding 39 in the next seven overs, until Mike Ingham was caught by the busy Wingfield-Digby, a wicket that sparked a collapse as the spinners reduced the batting side to 113 for seven.
Punchard eventually found a willing partner in Lyon as they took the score to 155 for eight.
With the victory line in sight, Punchard, having reached 76 off 78 balls, swung across the line once too often and was lbw to Cunningham. Ian Howarth quickly followed and the last pair were left needing 29 off four overs.
Lyon stood firm and with Tony Potter took Lancashire to the brink of victory as they reached the last two balls needing eight to win.
Lyon cracked the penultimate ball for four but Cunningham would get his revenge.