Berk­shire at full strength for play-off fi­nal

The Wokingham Paper - - SPORT - By DAVE WRIGHT sport@wok­ing­ham­pa­

BERK­SHIRE ex­pect to have a full squad avail­able for their MCCA play-off fi­nal against Lin­colnshire at Ban­bury CC in a game sched­uled for four days, start­ing on Sun­day at 10.30am.

And that, ad­mits per­for­mance man­ager Tom Lam­bert, is go­ing to cause headaches when it comes to se­lect­ing the team who will be bid­ding to beat the East­ern Divi­sion ti­tle hold­ers for the third year in a row.

“It looks as if all the lads who have played this sea­son are avail­able, so it means we are go­ing to have to work hard in pick­ing 11 from 15 or 16 to play in the fi­nal and so, un­for­tu­nately, there are go­ing to be a few dis­ap­pointed play­ers who will be left out,” he said.

In or­der to get the right bal­ance of pace and spin in his at­tack, Lam­bert said he will try to find out about the wicket they can ex­pect to see at Ban­bury.

The state of the pitch was of some con­cern ear­lier in the sea­son, but it got a lot bet­ter as the sum­mer wore on and Lam­bert be­lieves it should hold no fear for his play­ers.

Two ex­pected to be named in the XI are teenagers Jack Davies and Euan Woods, win­ners of the man-of-the-match award in each of the last two fi­nals with Berk­shire de­feat­ing Lin­colnshire on each oc­ca­sion.

Woods smashed 142 not out in the first in­nings in the 2016 fi­nal, which his side won by 28 runs, and 12 months later Davies, then aged 17, made an un­beaten 127 to lead his side to a six-wicket vic­tory, hav­ing shared an un­bro­ken stand of 156 with Andy Rish­ton (76) as they lifted their side from 135-4 to 291-4.

So Berk­shire are now seek­ing a hat-trick of ti­tles and they will go into the fi­nal on a real high, hav­ing won all six Western Divi­sion fix­tures this sea­son and fin­ish­ing 23 points clear of run­ners-up Ox­ford­shire.

Lam­bert con­tin­ued: “Lin­colnshire have been a real chal­lenge for us in the last two years. Whilst we have come out on top both times, both fi­nals, par­tic­u­larly the one in 2016, were close games and I am sure it will be much the same next week. They won’t want to lose three fi­nals in a row.

“It will be amaz­ing if we can fin­ish up as cham­pi­ons once more. We will be fac­ing a re­ally good side and we are look­ing for­ward to play­ing them again.”

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