Oxfordshire threw away a glorious opportunity to win their opening Group 1 game of the season when they lost by three runs against Hertfordshire yesterday.

Chasing 216, it looked certain Oxon would win when they reached 172-4.

But they lost five wickets for 23 runs, and despite Ian Hawtin and Matt Taylor taking them to the brink, a controversial caught behind decision against Taylor saw them fall short.

Opting to bowl first at a game switched to Bicester & North Oxford with Oxford Downs’ surface unplay-able, Oxfordshire started well, reducing their opponents to 96-3.

But the visitors dug in to reach 216-6, thanks to Eddie Ballard, who carried his bat for 84 not out, having been dropped by both Luke Ryan and Taylor in the same over when in his 40s.

Oxon did little to help their cause with 28 wides.

However, things looked good in reply as Richard Kaufman (67), Craig Haupt (48) and Nathan Hawkes (40) gave them a good start.

Poor shot selection saw the advantage disappear, and although Hawtin and Taylor put on 18 for the last wicket, with just three more required to win, Taylor was given out caught behind when the ball looked to have struck his thigh pad to end Oxon’s hopes.