Sunday, 20 June 2021

Russell in fine form

BERKSHIRE had to dig deep to beat WILTSHIRE by 75 runs at Corsham to make it two wins out of the two in the Unicorns Championship, writes Dave Wright.

After being dismissed for 163 in their second innings, the hosts were left needing 194 to beat the defending MCCA champions.

Even after Wilts had lost three wickets for 44 in the final session on Monday, the game looked evenly balanced going into the final day.

But Alexander Russell continued a memorable debut by taking an early wicket and from then on Berkshire never looked in any serious trouble.

Ealing paceman Russell went to take 3-60 to finish with eight wickets for the match, but once again it was master spinner Chris Peploe who created the most problems for Wiltshire, claiming 5-18 off 19.1 overs as the hosts were dismissed for 118.

Electing to bat first on a greenish wicket, Berkshire recovered from 139-5 in their first innings to post a respectable 296, with Waqas Hussain making 53, Stewart Davison 63 and Russell 42.

They had Wiltshire reeling at 129-5 before Neil Clark (54), Henley paceman Tahir Afridi, with a hard-hitting 77 off 67 balls and Jack Mynott (24) helped them to reach 266, a deficit of just 30 runs. Russell captured 5-81 off 17 overs, Peploe 3-62 (19) and Andy Rishton 2-45 (10).

All Russell's victims fell to catches behind the wicket by Davison, who claimed a total of six dismissals in the innings, taking him past 100 championship catches for Berkshire in the process.

Berkshire batsmen were not at their best in the second innings Five were trapped leg before wicket and four others edged catches to keeper Tom Morton. Hussain top scored on 44, with Dan Lincoln next highest on 27 as the visitors were all out for 163, a lead of 194.

Many wondered if it would be sufficient - but Berkshire always looked confident they would complete the job and mission was accomplished shortly before lunch on Tuesday.

Berkshire, now unbeaten in Western Division matches since August 2014, will be next in action on July 22-24 when they face Shropshire at Finchampstead.

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