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Berkshire on course to retain title after emphatic 241-run victory over Shropshire

Dave Wright and Michael Knox

Euan Woods

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Berkshire stayed well on course to retain the Western Division title after inflicting an emphatic 241-run defeat on Shropshire at Shifnal.

Their fourth win of the season leaves them 17 points clear of nearest challengers Oxfordshire with fixtures against Cornwall (away) and Dorset (at Wargrave) remaining.

In all, its 12 victories in a row when their two national play-off wins against Lincolnshire are added to their impressive run.

Despite missing several key players, the defending champions were simply too strong Shropshire, for whom only one batsman -  Will Parton with 36 runs in the first innings – reached 30 in the entire match.

Berkshire took control of the game on the opening day,  posting a formidable 90-over total of 350-8 with skipper James Morris making an excellent 96 and opener Archie Carter 83.

Carter's Wokingham team-mate Callum Creighton was given his senior debut following his 10 wickets in two Berkshire Under-17 games last week.

The left-arm seamer who attends Shiplake College was soon among the wickets, taking 1-17 off eight overs, but the bowling honours went to Andy Rishton who claimed 5-46 as Shropshire were shot out for 142, a deficit of 208.

Berkshire didn't enforce the follow-on; instead preferring to go for quick runs in their second innings to take the game beyond the home county's reach.

With Euan Woods top-scoring with 50 and Henley colleague Michael Williams making 36 not out, the visitors declared on 200-8, setting their hosts an impossible target of 409.

Shropshire didn't go down easily, surviving for 100 overs before being dismissed for 167 with Luke Beaven taking 4-20, Rishton 3-42, Chris Peploe 2-35 (off 35 overs) and Woods 1-38.

Wokingham's Sukhi Kang took a total of six catches behind the stumps in his first Championship game for three seasons.

Berkshire are back in action this Sunday (11am) when they face Wiltshire in the semi-finals of the Unicorns Trophy at Finchampstead.

Admission to the ground is free and there will be a barbecue along with a bar.

The winners will meet Cumberland or Staffordshire in the final at Wormsley on August 28.

Wiltshire's hopes of catching Berkshire in the Championship title race look all but over following a 139-run defeat by Wales inside two days at South Wilts CC. It was Wales' first Championship win in three years.

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Bucks comfortably held on for a draw after being outplayed on the first two days of their Unicorns Counties Championship Eastern Division match against Bedfordshire at Flitwick.

Set a formidable 380 to win in a minimum of 90 overs, Bucks had progressed to 132-0 when rain ended play at the tea interval.

The game started well for Bucks, who after losing the toss, reduced the hosts to 166-7 before the Bedfordshire tail wagged to lift them to 266 all out. Seamer AJ Woodland was Bucks's most successful bowler with 4-47.

The visitors were handicapped when Tring Park seamer Mo Choudhry suffered a shin injury after bowling five overs on his Championship debut and could take no further part in the match.

Woodland then top-scored with a patient 44 in Bucks's disappointing first-innings reply of 159 all out, Mahmud Hasan taking 5-24.

Beds quickly built on their first-innings lead of 107 thanks to a maiden Championship century from Patrick Harrington (129), who shared a second-wicket stand of 188 with opener Fayaz Homyoon (74).

The hosts declared nine overs into the final day on 272-6, with Michael Payne taking 5-62.

This left Bucks a target of 380.

Openers Woodland and Masoor Khan batted unscathed for 63 overs, putting on 132 before the match was called off.

Woodland, who hit his first ball for four, did not hit another boundary in his 188-ball innings. Khan batted more fluently and was 82 not out at the end

Bucks's next Championship match is against Norfolk at Manor Park, Norwich, starting on Sunday, August 18.

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