Pe­ploe ready as old foes get set for bat­tle again

UNICORNS

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - By James Roberts

FRESH from haul­ing Berk­shire to a draw against Devon this week, Chris Pe­ploe says that re­tain­ing the Unicorns Cham­pi­onship ti­tle comes above main­tain­ing the county’s three-year un­beaten run.

The re­sult meant Berk­shire have now gone three com­plete sea­sons un­de­feated in the Unicorns Cham­pi­onship and fin­ished 23 points clear atop the Western Di­vi­sion.

Nev­er­the­less, the for­mer Mid­dle­sex man in­sists the un­beaten run was not top of the county’s pri­or­i­ties this sea­son as they now gear up for a pair of fi­nals against East­ern Di­vi­sion Lin­colnshire later this month – in the Cham­pi­onship and the one-day Tro­phy com­pe­ti­tion.

“It’s a lovely ac­co­lade to have [be­ing three years un­beaten], but the fact that we’re in two fi­nals with the chance to win both com­pe­ti­tions is a fan­tas­tic place to be,” Pe­ploe said.

“The goal this year was to play the best cricket we can and to re­tain the three-day com­pe­ti­tion ti­tle.”

Pe­ploe took seven wick­ets and scored a cru­cial 32 not out in the se­cond in­nings against Devon, af­ter Berk­shire had fallen to 70-4, chas­ing 228.

“Sadly, we didn’t get off to the best of starts, so my­self and cap­tain James Mor­ris had to bat out the draw,” ex­plained Pe­ploe.

“It’s not how Berk­shire set out their stall to play their cricket, but it was a nec­es­sary way to end the game and keep that un­beaten run in­tact.”

Berk­shire now face Lin­colnshire in the Unicorns Cham­pi­onship fi­nal, but first do bat­tle in the Unicorns Tro­phy fi­nal on Wed­nes­day.

Pe­ploe starred in last year’s Cham­pi­onship fi­nal be­tween the sides, scor­ing 73 runs and tak­ing five wick­ets as Berk­shire tri­umphed by 28 runs. But de­spite stress­ing that he is part of a team full of po­ten­tial match-win­ners, the 36-year-old isn’t tak­ing vic­tory for granted.

“Euan Woods [who hit an un­beaten 142 in last year’s fi­nal] is a prime ex­am­ple – some­one that dom­i­nated last year that’s go­ing to play a huge amount of cricket,” Pe­ploe added.

“We’re full of guys who can turn up and be counted in any given sit­u­a­tion and that’s what makes us such a for­mi­da­ble team.

“I’m sure Lin­colnshire will be hun­gry for re­venge af­ter de­feat last year though.”

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