Thu, 28 Jun 2018
Andy Rishton was in sparkling form for Berkshire
Berkshire opened their defence of the Unicorns Championship title with a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Oxfordshire at Wargrave this week.
Skipper James Morris said: “In the end, it was a relatively comfortable win, but we had to produce some really tough cricket along the way.
“Oxfordshire certainly made us work hard over all three days.”
Berkshire were left requiring just 91 runs after bowling out the visitors for 179 in their second innings and they reached their target in the 16th over with Waqas Hussain cracking an unbeaten 57 off 49 balls.
Andy Rishton was left on 19, having produced his best bowling figures for the county earlier in the day with 6-48.
The Henley all-rounder had taken seven wickets for Loughborough MCCU against Cambridge MCCU last month.
Three glorious days produced two sparkling centuries, one for Oxon
skipper Jon Cater, followed by another from opener Hussain.
Cater, who had won the toss, came to the rescue after seeing his side slide from 111-0 to 181-7, his unbeaten 114 taking Oxon to 299-8 in their 90 overs, with 118 coming in a ninth-wicket stand with Joe Thomas (25).
Chris Peploe was the pick of the Berks bowlers, taking 4-114 after a marathon shift of 40 overs in the boiling conditions, while fellow spinner Ali Raja took 2-9 off 10 overs.
Berks also made a brisk start to their first innings, with Hussain and Brandon Gilmour piling on 95 in 15 overs before the latter was lbw for 49.
The good-sized crowd continued to be entertained with Rishton cracking 44, Richard Morris 82, James Morris 30, Joe Thomas 34no and Peploe 20.
But the honours went to Hussain, who made a superb 105 off 178 balls with 14 boundaries to follow up his century for Berkshire in a second-team game against Isle of Wight last week.
The MCCA champions closed on 388-7, a healthy lead of 89, and strengthened their grip on the game as they took three wickets for 28 runs – all caught behind Thomas.
Oxon lost two more wickets before wiping out their deficit, with seamer Rishton and Peploe doing the damage.
Cater again offered resistance, making 67, but once he was bowled by Rishton, the tailenders offered little resistance and they were all out for 179.
Rishton finished with 6-48 off 23.1 overs and Peploe 3-44 from 35.
Berkshire, needing 91 to win, had 15 runs on the board when Gilmour (11) was trapped lbw, but that was the only wicket to fall as the champions cruised home in 15.4 overs.
Hussain finished off the game in great style with 6,4,6 off successive balls.
Berkshire’s next championship fixture is away to Wiltshire, at Corsham on July 8-10.