Slough Express

Berkshire battle hard but lose both NCCA T20 openers to Oxfordshir­e

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Berkshire lost both their opening games in the NCCA T20 competitio­n against Oxfordshir­e at the Falkland club in Newbury, losing the first one by eight wickets at 144-2 but then hitting back hard in the second, going down by only three runs as they replied to Oxon’s 212-7 in an excellent game of cricket.

A good-sized Easter Sunday crowd was treated to two displays of sensationa­l batting from Oxfordshir­e’s Harrison Ward, the 22-year-old left-hander who made his debut for Sussex in the T20 Blast last summer.

Ward blasted 74 off 36 balls with five maximums and six fours in the first match, followed in the next by an outstandin­g 130 from 59 deliveries on the back of 12 sixes and eight fours. The former England U19 batsman shared an unbroken third-wicket partnershi­p of 85 with Ollie Clarke (35 not out) as Oxon eased home with seven overs to spare.

Put in to bat, Berkshire were soon in trouble, losing half their side for 66 following some sensationa­l catching by the Oxon fielders. There was a slight improvemen­t from the middle order with Andy Rishton making 40, Josh Lincoln 28 and debutant Jafer Chohan 12, but their total of 143-9 was never going to be enough as the wicket became easier to bat on.

Of the seven bowlers used by Berkshire, Rhodri Lewis took 2-24 off three overs and Luke Beaven 2-28 after four. Both the spinners also shared four wickets in the second match but were unable to put the brake on Ward who took just 12 overs to bring up his century. He was eventually stumped by Dan Lincoln off the Lewis for 130, being the fourth man out with the total on 173 in the 16th over.

Oxon, who last year succeeded Berks as the NCCA three-day champions, finished up with a very respectabl­e 212-7.

Berkshire, however, produced a spirited response with new skipper Lincoln leading the way. The opener made an excellent 94 off 45 balls with five sixes and nine fours before being the eighth man out at 180-8 when trapped lbw in the 17th over. Beaven and Max Uttley edged Berks closer to their target, but they could not quite make it to the line, finishing on 209-9.

Berkshire squad: Toby Albert (Finchampst­ead), Dan Lincoln (Slough), Saif Zaib (Slough), Rhodri Lewis (Wargrave), Andy Rishton (Wokingham), Josh Lincoln (Slough), Archie Carter (Wokingham), Charlie Dunnett (Valley End), Jafer Chohan (Richmond), Luke Beaven (Reading), Max Uttley (Wokingham), Mungo Russell (Ealing).

Berkshire, who were missing experience­d pair Tom Nugent and Euan Woods due to injury, are next in action on May 1st when they play Wales at Newport.

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