Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Nugent’s 10-wicket haul helps county lift western division title

BERKSHIRE sealed the Western Division title in sensational style, beating DORSET by 327 runs, one of

BERKSHIRE sealed the Western Division title in sensational style, beating DORSET by 327 runs, one of their most emphatic wins in the club’s long history. They achieved it with more than a day to spare at Finchampstead this week.

Having made 351 (Waqas Hussain 145, James Morris 100) in their first innings on Sunday, they bowled out Dorset for just 96 after they had been 70-5. Henley’s Tom Nugent took 7-40, his best ever figures in senior cricket.

Berkshire, deciding not to enforce the follow on, then posted 156-6 declared (James Morris 48, Ollie Wilkin 32) off 26 overs on Monday to take their lead to 411.

Dorset fared even worse in their second innings, being shot out for just 84 in 44 overs, with Wilkin taking the last four wickets with successive deliveries — two bowled and two lbws. He finished with 4-16 off 7.4 overs. Nugent took 3-26 for outstanding match figures of 10-66. There were also second innings wickets for Hussain (1-3 off 3), Euan Woods (also 1-3 off 3) and Chris Peploe (1-18 off 14).

It was the fifth time Berkshire have lifted the Western Division title, having last won it in 2008.

With runners-up Cornwall suffering a shock 10-wicket defeat to Devon also inside two days, Berkshire finished 22 points clear at the top-of-the-table with four wins and two draws. It means they have now gone through two seasons without losing in the Unicorns Championship.

There were plenty of celebrations on the Finchampstead pitch after the game, but captain James Morris reminded his players that they should regard this as “only the semi-final” as next up is the play-off for the national title.

“We want to go on and win the whole thing,” he said.

“We have been comfortably the best team in this division and now we want to be the best team in the whole of the minor counties.”

Morris emphasised that it has been a “complete team effort” but he did single out Wilkin following his four-wicket haul. “We had earmarked Ollie to mop up the tail-end, though we didn’t expect it to happen quite as quickly as he did,” added the skipper.

“It was very skilful bowling. The ball was reverse swinging. It is one thing knowing it is, but bowling four balls in a row that are threatening the stumps is very skilful.”

The play-off will be against Eastern Division champions Lincolnshire at the Wormsley ground near High Wycombe on August 28 to 31.

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