Cricket: Third consecutive Championship title for Berkshire CCC

Lincs 1st  innings: 198 (Keast 42, Russell 5-57).

Berks 1st innings: 405-7 (90 overs; Woods 98, Davies 73, James Morris 46).

Lincs 2nd innings: 175 (Timby 42; Rishton 5-33, Nugent 3-36).

Berks won by an innings and 32 runs.

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Berkshire CCC have won the MCCA title for the third year running after defeating Lincolnshire CCC, the runners-up on each occasion, by an innings and 32 runs at Banbury with more than a day and a half to spare.

“It’s a testament to the skilful players that we have got and the hard work we do outside the summer,” commented skipper James Morris.

“We try to go about everything in a really professional manner. It’s something that has been picked up by opponents and umpires.”

They have now gone four seasons without losing a championship game, a remarkable run of 27 games.

“I think you can safely say, we are the best minor county side in the country and our aim is to make sure that continues,” added Morris.

Pace bowler Alex

Russell, whose four early wickets on Sunday morn- ing put Berks in control, was voted the man of the match. He and Andy Rishton were both presented with match balls to mark their five-wicket hauls in the game.

Next year Berks will attempt to emulate Devon, who won the Championship four years running – 1994-97.

Morris said they would also target the treble – the Championship, 50/50 Trophy and the T20 tournament which they won at Wormsley last month.

As a player and coach, Berks performance manager Tom Lambert has now collected a remarkable 13 trophies for the county. 

Unlike their two previous finals, Berks dominated this week's final against a young and much-changed Lincs side.

Having won the toss on Sunday, Berks bowled first on a green wicket and, after taking the first four wickets for just 35, they bowled out Lincs for 198 with Ealing paceman Russell claiming 5-57 from 17 overs.

Tom Nugent took 2-32 and Henley teammate Euan Woods 2-11.

In the two previous finals, Woods and Jack Davies had earned the respective man-of-the-match awards with centuries, and the teenagers played another vital role this week.

Woods hit 98 (one run more than last year) and Davies 73, the pair putting on 139 for the second wicket to lay a solid foundation for their side's only innings.

There were also useful contributions from the Morris brothers, James (46) and Richard (37), as well as Andy Rishton (25) before Stewart Davison (23) and Tom Nugent (25) smashed 50 in 16 minutes off the last five overs of the innings, enabling their side to close on 405-7 from 90 overs.

With a hefty deficit of 207, Lincs made an encouraging start second time around, reaching 61 without loss, but then Rishton was brought into the Berks' attack, which was missing their leading wicket-taker Chris Peploe due to illness, and it all changed in unexpected fashion.

Henley's medium-fast bowler had gone for 31 runs in five overs on Sunday, being called for five no-balls.

But a day later, with the windy conditions more in his favour, he showed great accuracy and took the first four wickets to fall at a personal cost of 24 runs in seven overs.

By the close of play on day two, which had seen 17 overs lost at the start due to drizzle, the East- ern Division champions had moved on to 124-4.

Within 55 minutes of play resuming on Tuesday, it was 157-7 with Nugent being rewarded for bowling

superbly against the wind, taking three wickets with two lbws and a catch behind by Davison.

Rishton claimed his fifth wicket of the innings to finish with 5-33, while Peploe took two wickets in the only 10 balls he delivered in the second innings, so completing a famous victory.

In the last three seasons, Berks have won three Western Division titles, three Championships, one 50-50 Trophy and one T20 competition.