BERKSHIRE Over 50s recorded a fine five-wicket victory against a strong Essex side in their County Championship game at Finchampstead last Wednesday, writes Richard Ashton.

The visitors elected to bat after winning the toss and Mel Hussain (52) and Kevin Grant (33) put on 76 before the latter edged John Macdonald to Andrew Davis behind the stumps.

That prompted a collapse in the face of a wonderful nine-over spell from Macdonald (5-25), who took the opening five wickets to reduce Essex to 92-5.

Gary Loveday ran out Hussain 12 runs later, and Davis then dismissed John French via the same method with the score on 131.

Nigel Holmes (40 from 45 balls) and Tim Smith (21no at a run a ball) revived the innings, before Simon Myles trapped the former lbw.

Arshad Mughal became the third player to be run out – this time by Richard O’Toole – and the visitors ended their 45 overs on 180-9.

Nick Pitcher fell early in the reply, and when Gordon Morgan was also dismissed, the game was in the balance with Berkshire 50-2. However, Loveday (39) and Myles (62) shared a match-defining 73-run stand until the former was cleaned up by ex-England bowling coach Ian Pont.

David Shaw kept the momentum going and despite Myles’ fine 57-ball innings ending with the score on 167, Phil Oxley and O’Toole held their nerve to see Berkshire to victory with seven balls to spare.

Bill Munday (51), John Muir (47) and Chris Harding (40) helped Berkshire Over 60s 2nds reach 214-8, but that was not enough for them to avoid a last-ball three-wicket loss to Essex (215-7) at Royal Ascot CC.