OXFORDSHIRE captain Jonny Cater is looking forward to defending the National Counties T20 crown.

On Sunday, Oxon begin the defence of their title with a double-header against Buckinghamshire at Wormsley.

Cater announced his retirement from red ball cricket in January, but will continue to lead the county in white ball cricket as they seek to keep hold of their T20 status.

READ AGAIN: Oxfordshire captain retires from red ball cricket

He said: “Winning last year was a pretty special feeling.

“It’s been a build up of five or six years to get to that point.

“We’ve underachieved as a county in white ball cricket so to not only get through our group but to eventually win it, was very satisfying and it shows we’re competing against the best counties.

“Especially with Cambridgeshire being a strong side, it will certainly be nice to remember in a few years.

“We’re very lucky to have professionally contracted players to boost the morale in the camp.

“Harrison [Ward] was brilliant last year and fingers crossed we have him available for most of this year.”

Ward, who came through Oxon’s youth system, had a breakout year in professional cricket in 2022, playing in 13 of Sussex’s T20 Blast fixtures.

The 23-year-old aggressive batter was joined in Oxon’s final winning squad by fellow Sussex teammate James Coles and Oxford-born Gloucestershire brothers Tom and Ollie Price.

“As much as we’re lucky, we feel as a county we’ve given these guys the platform to make a career at professional clubs so it’s nice to see them give back to the county where they started,” said Cater.

It was announced earlier in the year that Ollie Clarke would succeed Cater as red ball captain for the 2023 NCCA Championship season.

Cater will remain as captain in T20 and 50 over cricket, and will be supported by Clarke as vice-captain in white ball cricket.

READ AGAIN: Oxfordshire announce new captain for red ball cricket

Speaking on his retirement from red ball cricket, Cater said: “Playing a full season of National Counties cricket is very demanding.

“I’ve got a young family now and that comes with responsibilities so to potentially play four days in succession was asking a lot.

“I’ll still be considered a selector in the red ball set up.

“It helps with Ollie playing in the Premier Division with Banbury and me in the Second Division, so we’ll both see the talent coming in.

“We were disappointed with not making the final last year, obviously Berkshire are a very good side but Callum Russell is very capable taking the gloves as he has done when I’ve had to miss games in the past and Ollie is very intelligent, he’s still young but been with us a long time now.”