Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Peploe shines with bat and ball as Berks retain Western Division title

CHRIS Peploe shrugged off a groin strain to produce a match-winning performance for BERKSHIRE. He shone with both bat and ball as his side crushed OXFORDSHIRE by an innings and 53 runs this week.

The 36-year-old hammered 103 in Berkshire’s 391-9 and then took 8-15 off 20.2 overs as Oxon were dismissed for 131 in their second innings. The left-arm spin king claimed 10 wickets in all in the match played at Challow and Childrey Cricket Club.

This win assures unbeaten Berkshire of retaining the Western Division title with a game to play and keeps them on course for a Unicorns Counties double.

They meet Lincolnshire in the one-day Trophy final at Wormsley on Wednesday, August 23 and could face the same opponents in the championship play-off — a repeat of last year — at Banbury on August 27 to 30.

For Peploe, it was his first century for the county and the best bowling figures of his career.

And the former Middlesex player achieved it despite nursing a groin injury which he had sustained early in his innings.

“He has been absolutely sensational,” said skipper James Morris. “I am really delighted for him getting his first 100 (for Berkshire) and he bowled superbly on a wicket where everything was in his favour and he exploited it perfectly.”

Morris added: “It was an amazing team performance and we’re all delighted to be through to another final.

“It’s great to win the Western Division title with an unbeaten record and we are now looking forward to retaining the national title as well.”

The Berkshire captain played a part in Peploe’s century, as he was his runner for much of his 136-minute innings after Peploe had damaged his groin.

The quick running between Morris and Andy Rishton — turning singles into twos or threes — certainly helped Peploe build up his total as Berkshire regained control of the game after being reduced to 72-4 as they replied to Oxon’s first innings of 207. Initially, it was Morris and Rishton who got Berks back on track with a stand of 76, which ended when the skipper was lbw for 34.

But it was the combination of Rishton, Peploe and runner Morris who saw Berkshire take a stranglehold on the game.

Their sixth-wicket partnership was worth 118 — in 27.2 overs — before Rishton was bowled for 89, which came off 137 balls and contained nine boundaries. That took Berkshire on to 266-6 in 75 overs. Stewart Davison smacked 26 before Peploe reached his century, only then to be bowled for 103.

Joe Thomas produced a delightful late flurry of runs, reaching his half-century off just 18 balls before finishing unbeaten on 57 off 21 with four sixes and the same number of fours.

With Tom Nugent contributing five, Thomas added 66 off 27 deliveries for the ninth wicket. This took the total to 391-9 by the end of 90 overs, giving them a commanding lead of 184 runs.

Oxon did slightly threaten to cancel out their deficit when reaching 103-2, but then collapsed dramatically as Peploe ripped through the order.

Only home skipper Jon Gater offered any stiff resistance, surviving 80 minutes at the crease whilst making just 17 not out off 78 balls.

Morris again proved a good assistant for Peploe, taking four catches, three in the slips and one at leg slip.

On this form, Berkshire look capable of going through their championship campaign unbeaten for the third year in succession.

Their final Western Division game is against Devon at Exeter starting on August 13.

Berkshire: Andrew House (Finchampstead), Waqas Hussain (Henley), Euan Woods (Henley), Archie Carter (Wokingham), James Morris (Datchet), Andy Rishton (Loughborough), Chris Peploe (Datchet), Stewart Davison (Henley), Joe Thomas (Datchet), Tom Nugent (Henley), Ali Akbar (Slough).

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