BERKSHIRE CCC’s hopes of opening their defence of the Unicorns Championship title with a win this week were washed out, writes Dave Wright.

After two days they looked in a strong position to defeat Cornwall at Wargrave CC before bad weather washed out most of Tuesday’s action.

The champs bowled out their visitors for 191 – having been 52-5 at one stage – in their first innings on Sunday with Tom Nugent taking 6-61 off 18 overs.

Henley’s paceman twice had to leave the field to receive attention for a badly cut finger on his left hand, but it did not affect his bowling.

Ollie Wilkin captured 2-29, while the other two wickets were shared by Chris Peploe, who took 1-35 in a marathon spell of 27 overs, and debutant Harry Jordan (1-28).

In reply, Berkshire soon lost Waqas Hussain (four) and Billy Rogers, for the same total, but Wilkin and Richard Morris lifted the total from 31-2 to 95-3.

Wilkin fell for 61, made off 63 balls, but Morris went on to make his side’s top score of 74 from 148 deliveries.

Morris and Dan Lincoln added 101 for the fifth wicket before the latter was out for 62 which came off 110 deliveries. With Nugent contributing 21, Berkshire finished on 267, a lead of 76.

Left-arm spinner Andy Libby was the pick of the visitors’ bowlers, taking 5-59 off 27.3 overs.

Cornwall then proceeded to lose four wickets before wiping out their deficit, with Richard Morris swooping from point to run out Adrian Noott for one before Wilkins captured two more wickets and Peploe one.

Skipper Matt Robins (34no) and Adam Hodgson (14no) stopped the rot, taking the total to 86-4 by close of play on Monday.

Sadly, heavy overnight rain dragged into Tuesday meaning play did not start until 3.40pm, and only after some brilliant work by the Wargrave groundstaff.

Berks immediately went on the front foot and took two quick wickets including that of Robins, trapped lbw by Wilkin for 44.

But after a little more than an hour’s play the heavens opened again leaving both captains with little choice but to shake on the draw, with Cornwall 104-6.

It is the second successive match between the two counties to be badly affected by rain. Last season at Grampound Road play was only possible on the Sunday, when Berkshire (325-5dec) looked well on course for victory with Cornwall all out for 92 (Nugent 6-26) in their first innings and 8-1 in their second.

Berkshire are back in action this Sunday (11am) when they play Suffolk at Falkland CC in the quarter-finals of the Unicorns Trophy.

They won all their four games to finish top of Group 1, while Suffolk finished runners-up in Group 4 with two wins and two defeats. The winners will face an away tie in the semi-finals.