BERKSHIRE had six Henley players and WILTSHIRE one. But it was the single man, Tahir Afridi, who proved the big difference between the sides as Wiltshire hammered Berkshire by nine wickets in their Unicorns Championship match at Falkland CC, Newbury, this week.
The 29-year-old all-rounder, batting at number nine, smashed 70 not out off 109 deliveries to help Wiltshire recover from 89-5 to 314 all out in their first innings. There were also several useful scores from his lower-order colleagues.
Henley paceman Tom Nugent was the pick of the home bowlers, taking 5-85 from 22 overs.
Berkshire had earlier been dismissed for 282 with Richard Morris making 104 and Henley wicketkeeper Stewart Davison 70, his highest score for the county. The pair put together a stand of 137 for the sixth wicket.
When Berkshire batted a second time, Afridi was a thorn in their side again, bowling Slough’s Waqas Hussain for a duck in his first over.
The paceman went on to take two more wickets for figures of 3-26 off 13 overs as Berkshire were dismissed for just 106.
This left Wiltshire needing only 75 to win and they took less than 13 overs to reach their target for the loss of just one wicket. This was their third championship win in succession and they top the Western Division table.
They also play Oxfordshire at Bicester on Sunday in the semi-finals of the Unicorns Trophy, the knock-out competition which was won by Berkshire last year.
Berkshire, still seeking their first win in the championship, faced Wiltshire without skipper James Morris.
The former Henley player received a one-match ban from the Minor Counties Cricket Association for “failing to control his players” in the recent drawn match against Wales Minor Counties at Usk. It is believed that Morris was not involved in the incidents themselves which led to the umpires reporting Berkshire to the game’s authorities.
Henley opener David Barnes took over the captaincy against Wiltshire. He scored 30 in the first innings and 11 in the second. Club colleague Gurveer Singh broke a finger while fielding on Monday, the third time he has damaged his fingers this season.
Berkshire team manager Jeff Jones offered no excuses following his side’s disappointing performance. He said: “We were outplayed. Wiltshire were better than us in most departments. But we are mainly a young side and still on a learning curve.”
James Morris added: “We still have three games left, so our season is not dead. All the boys are determined to get things right in our remaining matches.”
Berkshire’s next fixture is against Herefordshire at Finchampstead on July 20 to 22.