BERKSHIRE are brimming with confidence as they prepare to open their defence of the MCCA Twenty20 competition this coming Bank Holiday weekend.

The national champions start with two away Group Two fixtures against Shropshire at Whitchurch on Sunday, followed by two more against neighbours Buckinghamshire at Wargrave on Monday, 11am and 2.30pm (approx) starts each day.

Berkshire have warmed up with doubles against Wiltshire at North Maidenhead on Easter Sunday and Bedfordshire at Dunstable a week later.

In their opening game against Beds last Sunday, Berks made 132-7 with the bulk of their runs coming from three players.

Richard Morris, leading the side in the absence of brother James, blasted 54 off 39 balls, of which seven were dispatched to the boundary, while Joe Thomas hit 34 not out from 17 deliveries and Andy Rishton 13.

Beds replied with 124-7 (Callum Berrill 50no) with Euan Woods taking 2-19 off his four overs. There was also a wicket (1-29) for Tom Nugent on his first pre-season appearance.

The second game proved much easier for the visitors. They dismissed the opponents for just 115 in 19.1 overs, Rhodri Lewis being the pick of the bowlers with 3-30 off four overs.

Woods claimed 2-13 from 3.1 overs, while there was a wicket apiece for Luke Beaven (1-19), Ali Raja (1-20), Savin Perera (1-6) and Rishton, with 1-11 from his only over.

Rishton then took the batting honours by blasting an unbeaten 53 off 41 balls with a six and four sixes, dominating the bowling from the start which saw Berkshire put 50 runs on the board in the opening 6.2 overs.

He lost two partners – Perera (4) and Dan Lincoln (18) – before being joined by Morris, and the Henley teammates saw their side home in just 13.4 overs, the latter contributing a quickfire 37 from 25 balls.

Lincoln, Woods, Rishton, Greatwood and Jack Davies are this week on duty with the Middlesex 2nd XI for their three-day match against Hampshire 2nds at Newclose County Cricket Ground on the Isle of Wight.

Ethan Bamber, who has played for Berkshire in the past, is also in the visitors' squad, while spinner Ollie Birts, a Berkshire regular last year, is in the Hampshire side.

Berkshire Women open their county championship Division Two campaign this weekend with fixtures against Essex and Worcestershire. They are on Sunday and Monday (11am starts) with both being played at North Maidenhead's ground at Summerleaze.