Monday, 14 June 2021

Berkshire lift third title in row

BERKSHIRE have won the Western Division of the Unicorns Championship for a third successive year, achieving it with an impressive 100 per cent record, writes Dave Wright.

They made it six wins in a row with an eight-wicket victory over Dorset at North Perrott CC this week and it means they have gone four seasons without losing in the Unicorns Championship.

Dorset did not roll over lightly, but it was a game Berkshire always looked capable of winning.

They dismissed their hosts for 188 runs in their first innings after they had elected to take first use of an excellent batting strip.

Dorset recovered from 13-3 to 131-5 with Ryan Scott making 62 runs, but the Berkshire attack always had the upper hand, with Ollie Birts taking 3-25, Callum Gregory 2-34, Andy Rishton 2-36, Chris Peploe 2-47 and Euan Woods 1-36.

Berkshire began their reply with 17-year-old Archie Carter and 18-year-old Jack Davies, which surely must be the youngest opening pair in the club’s history.

Carter made only two runs, but Davies was joined by 19-year-old Euan Woods and they laid a solid foundation for the whole game, lifting the total from 16-1 to 152 before Davies fell for 67. Woods went on to make a magnificent 159 runs, which came from 219 balls and included 21 boundaries.

There were useful contributions from James Morris (20), Dan Lincoln (29) and Joe Thomas, with 30 not out, before Berkshire were eventually all out for 338.

In their second innings, Dorset did marginally better, reaching 245 thanks largely to Scott (66) and Jigar Naik (54), the pair improving their side's position by taking them from 90-5 to 195-6.

Peploe got through another marathon spell to finish with figures of 44-23-58-4, while Woods claimed 3-78, Rishton 2-38 and Gregory 1-44.

This left Berkshire going into the final two sessions on Tuesday requiring just 94 to win and they made a flying start with Carter and Davies knocking off 20 runs in the first two overs.

Carter was caught at gully for 27 with the total on 48-1 while Davies was bowled for 17, but Woods, with 34, and skipper Morris (4) sealed victory in mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

With another tremendously successful Western Division campaign behind them, Berkshire now turn their attention to retaining the national title against Lincolnshire, the Eastern Division champions, in a four-day encounter at Banbury CC on September 16-19.

It is the third year running these two counties have met in the final.

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