<
>

Berkshire clinch Minor Counties Championship in one-wicket thriller

Berkshire 164 (Morris 89, Hemmings 4-21) and 97 for 9 (Maxfield 7-48) beat Staffordshire 150 and 110 (Nugent 5-40, Rishton 4-42) by one wicket.

Berkshire held their nerve to win the Minor Counties Championship for a record-equalling fourth successive season after they scrambled a one-wicket victory over Staffordshire on the third day of the final at Banbury.

Berkshire were set just 97 to win but that modest target looked like being beyond them when they slipped to 87 for 9 with Staffordshire seamer Tim Maxfield taking seven of the wickets.

But Staffordshire could not dislodge Berkshire opener Jack Davies who batted throughout the innings for 42 not out.

With the support of last man Mungo Russell, Davies managed to whittle down the runs, striking Rob Hemmings for an important boundary, taking a single off the same bowler to level the scores and then clinching victory in a remarkable low-scoring final by taking the winning single off Maxfield.

Berkshire's win equalled Devon's record of four successive Championships under the captaincy of Peter Roebuck between 1994 and 1997 and gave them their seventh national title in four season to go with four Western Division crowns.

Defeat was hard on Maxfield who finished with career-best figures of 7 for 48 in a brave effort from Staffordshire, the Eastern Division champions.

Ball dominated bat throughout the match on a pitch that helped the seamers and only one batsman, Berkshire's Richard Morris in the first innings, made 50. Davies was the only other batsman to top 30.

There were 13 LBWs in the match, ten of them against Berkshire with five in each innings.

Berkshire began the day needing 73 more runs for victory and Staffordshire requiring seven more wickets.

The equation became 73 runs with six wickets in hand after Manraj Johal bowled Middlesex T20 batsman Dan Lincoln without addition to the overnight total.

Maxfield then bowled Berkshire captain James Morris and Johal trapped Andy Rishton LBW to make it 40 for 6.

But the experienced Chris Peploe (15) and Tom Nugent (13) supplied valuable lower-order runs in important partnerships with Davies for the seventh and eighth wickets which got Berkshire to within 16 of their target.

Maxfield then had Nugent and Luke Beaven LBW but Davies, who is on Middlesex's books, and Russell held firm for 23 balls while they scraped together the last ten runs.