HENLEY Cricket Club’s Euan Woods was voted man-of-the-match as Berkshire were crowned the Unicorns Counties Championship
HENLEY Cricket Club’s Euan Woods was voted man-of-the-match as Berkshire were crowned the Unicorns Counties Championship winners on Wednesday.
They lifted the title by defeating Lincolnshire by 28 runs on a tense final day following a thrilling four-day tie at the picturesque Wormsley cricket ground that swung in favour of one side and then the other.
Their all-round team work saw them home, but it was a remarkable innings by 17-year-old Woods that was to prove the difference between victory and defeat.
Berkshire, who had defeated Lincolnshire in the 2008 final, were struggling on 70-6 before Woods, their youngest team member, produced a match-changing performance with an outstanding 142 not out off 176 balls. He and fellow left-hander Chris Peploe put on 146 for the seventh wicket.
Following Peploe’s dismissal for 73, Stewart Davison joined his club mate Woods at the crease and they added another 82 to the total before Davison fell for 27. Berkshire were eventually all out for 332.
On their first visit to the crease Lincs batted doggedly but the Berkshire bowlers stuck to their task and bowled out the Eastern Division champions for 284 with Peploe taking 5-101 off 31 overs.
Berks’ second innings followed a similar pattern to the first with the main batsmen falling cheaply, but once again the lower order dug their team out of trouble, Davison made 52 and Woods 41 with good support coming from the tailenders, including 18 from Henley’s Tom Nugent took them to 237 all out, leaving Lincolnshire requiring 286 to win.
They stumbled to 125-7 by close of play on the third day, but offered plenty of stiff resistance on Wednesday with Carl Wilson making 49 in 182 minutes and then Matt Carter —there was one on both sides — occupying the crease for 195 minutes in making 59.
Carter had been involved in a bizarre accident on Tuesday when he was accidentally struck in the mouth by the ball as Dominic Brown, having caught Peploe on the fine leg boundary, threw it back in towards his celebrating team-mates. Carter was left with two broken teeth.
But he recovered well enough to resist Berkshire for some time before the win was sealed after seven hours and 22 minutes in the field.
Peploe finished with 5-74 to give the Datchet CC spinner 10 wickets for the game. But it was Woods who deservedly took the man-of the-match award.
Berkshire’s director of cricket Danny Hall said: “In the context of the game, Euan’s 142 not out was the finest innings I have seen in minor counties cricket and I have been around for a long time.”