BERKSHIRE hauled themselves off the floor like true champions to defeat Cheshire by three wickets on Tuesday.

It was their fifth successive Western Division win and they now look certain to lift the title for the third year in succession.

But the national champions had to dig deep – very deep – to beat Cheshire in an absorbing contest at Chester Boughton Hall.

They restricted their hosts to 254-9 in their first innings, having had them in even bigger trouble at 194-8.

Berkshire, however, then produced their worst batting performance of the season, managing only 148. They were 63-6 at the close of play on Sunday before Stewart Davison (34), Tom Nugent (22) and Chris Peploe (16) managed to make the total slightly more respectable.

Slow left-arrmer Danny Woods took the Cheshire bowling honours with 5-39 off 22.3 overs – his third five-wicket haul in successive championship games.

Not used to be trailing on first-innings scores, Berkshire were extremely fired up when they returned to the field – none more so than Nugent.

The Henley paceman ripped into the Cheshire batting with such ferocity that wickets soon started to tumble and they were skittled for just 99, the last five wickets falling for a mere five runs, with Nugent claiming career-best figures of 18.2-6-38-7.

Nugent was backed up by some outstanding fielding, headed by keeper Davison with three catches. He also took one off the bowling of Andy Rishton.

In addition, Nugent saw Ali Raja run in from long leg and dive forward to take a catch just inches above the ground, Peploe snapped up a smart low catch at second slip and, finally, Richard Morris leapt off the ground at square leg to take a brilliant high catch to end the Cheshire innings.

So Berkshire were left needing 206 to win, and by close of play on Monday had moved on to 88-2 with the loss of Rishton (4) and Archie Carter for 34.

On the final morning, James Morris and night-watchman Alex Russell lifted the total to 125 before the latter was bowled for 19.

James Morris continued to bat nicely along with brother Richard until being trapped lbw for 63, having faced 114 balls.

It was the second highest score in the match, only being bettered by Rick Moore’s 68 for the hosts on Sunday.

Dan Lincoln hit a quickfire 15 and Joe Cracknell, making his championship debut, made only four, leaving Berkshire 175-6.

Richard Morris and Davison moved the total on to 204, when the former was stumped for 38, leaving Peploe to strike the winning boundary, taking Berkshire to 208-7 in the 54th over.

Woods claimed 4-49 to finish with match figures of 9-88, and it was the second game running where they had completed a victory before lunch on the final day.

They will now be looking to complete their Western Division fixtures with a 100-per-cent record when they take on Dorset at North Perrott CC on September 2-4.

Before that, Berkshire and Cheshire could meet again this Sunday at Wormsley as both are through to the semi-finals of the MCCA’s new T20 competition, with Morris’ men facing Devon at 10am, followed by Cheshire versus Norfolk. The final will be played later in the afternoon.


Cheshire 1st innings: 254-9 (Moore 68, Normanton 55no; Peploe 3-79).

Berkshire 1st innings: 148 (Davison 34; Woods 5-39).

Cheshire 2nd innings: 99 (Moore 30; Nugent 7-38).

Berkshire 2nd innings: 208-7 (J. Morris 63, R Morris 38; Woods 4-49).