04:30PM, Wednesday 19 June 2019
Berkshire produced one of their most devastating displays to beat Herefordshire by 118 runs in the Unicorns Twenty20 competition at Falkland CC last Sunday.
Put into bat in what looked difficult conditions, they posted a useful 173-5 and then incredibly took nine wickets for just 30 runs before a last-wicket stand saw the visitors finish on 55-9.
Last year’s Unicorns champions, they were scheduled to play two games, but the first was abandoned without a ball being bowled as the square was still drying out following rain.
They were put into bat – Berks skipper James Morris would have batted had he won the toss – and Jack Davies and Dan Lincoln laid the foundation of their competitive total by putting on 46 in five overs before the latter was lbw for 32.
Tom Scriven lasted only two balls, but there were useful contributions by Richard Morris with 27 and Andy Rishton 32, while Davies was eventually the fourth man out, bowled for 55 from 44 balls.
Nineteen runs came off the final nine balls with Brandon Gilmour finishing with 14 and Tom Nugent 10 to take Berkshire to 173.
But for the Herefordshire batsmen, the afternoon proved extremely embarrassing.
With Nugent in devastating form, the first three wickets tumbled for just three runs and half the side were back in the pavilion with only six runs on the board.
Shell-shocked Herefordfordshire improved to 22-6 and 23-7 before losing their next two wickets on 30. Last pair Riecko Parker-Cole (18no) and Alex Russell (5no) managed to hold out until the end of the 20 overs, taking Herefordshire to 55 and leaving Berkshire with a 118-run victory.
Nugent, probably feeling he had a point to prove after being left out of the side the previous weekend when they lost twice to Oxfordshire at Banbury, took the bowling honours with 4-16 off his four overs. He also claimed a run-out, while the remaining wickets were shared by Luke Beaven (1-6), Euan Woods (1-1), Ali Raja (1-11) and Brandon Gilmour (1-10).
Berkshire, with three wins and four defeats, finish third in Group 2 on seven points, seven fewer than table-topping Buckinghamshire, who join Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire and Dorset in the semi-finals at Wormsley on August 25. Berkshire and Herefordshire meet again at Colwall in the first of the three-day fixtures starting on Sunday (11am) with the title holders looking to extend their remarkable unbeaten record in the county championship to 27 games.
Skipper James Morris said: “This defeat will hurt them, but Herefordshire are a proud county and I feel sure they will come back much stronger and give us a much tougher test.”
He added: “We always identify the first championship game as a really important one as a win can set you up nicely.
“It is the competition we value the most highly and definitely the strongest we are at, as we have shown by winning it three years running.
“We are now looking to make it four.