BERKSHIRE crashed out of the Unicorns Trophy in disappointing fashion at Kidmore End on Sunday, writes Dave Wright.
The holders lost by eight wickets to Herefordshire after being bowled out for just 92 in their final Group 4 match.
They went into the game with a slight mathematical chance of snatching the runners-up spot from Herefordshire on net run rate.
One way to try to achieve this was to dismiss their rivals and then knock off the required runs in quick fashion.
Berkshire skipper James Morris desperately wanted to win the toss and put Herefordshire into bat on a wicket that was still drying out following torrential rain on Saturday.
The start was put back for two and a half hours and reduced from 50 overs a side to 41.
But Morris lost the toss and, not surprisingly, Herefordshire skipper David Exall elected to bowl first. The advantage of that soon surfaced with David Barnes being dismissed for one, Waqas Hussain for 11 and Michael Roberts bowled for a duck.James Morris went for a single and Euan Brock and Shelvin Gumbs, both without troubling the scorers, quickly followed to leave Berkshire in serious trouble at 29-6. Richard Morris and Stewart Davison offered some resistance, but Morris was out for 25 with the total on 45. Robbie Williams made five, before becoming Berkshire’s fourth lbw victim of the innings. Davison and Henley team-mate Tom Nugent added 33 for the ninth wicket before the latter was bowled for 12.
Last-man Rishi Sharath was out for one to leave Davison unbeaten on 25 when the innings ended at 92 in the 37th over. Wicketkeeper Davison occupied the crease for 92 minutes, during which he faced 84 balls.
For Herefordshire, David Ball took 4-25, Dan Conway 3-20 and Bradley Wadlan 2-17.
Berkshire bowlers made a sensational start with pacemen Williams and Nugent capturing a wicket each in their first over to leave the visitors 1-2.
But it was only a brief moment of joy for Berkshire, as Wadlan, with 40, and Charlie Walker, 52, guided Herefordshire home in the 20th over with an unbroken stand of 97.
Captain Morris said: “We are all disappointed, but we will now regroup and I am sure we will come back stronger for the start of the championship.”
The first of their six three-day matches is against Cornwall at Henley on June 8-10.