11:00AM, Saturday 28 August 2021
Berkshire, the four-time champions, have failed to reach the national county championship final for the first time since the 2015 season when they finished runners-up to Oxfordshire in the Western Division.
And it is a similar story this week. Despite a comprehensive 158-run win over Cheshire at Falkland CC on Tuesday, they were unable to overhaul Oxfordshire in an exciting title race which went right to the second session on the final day.
Oxon, the only side to defeat Berkshire in a championship game in seven years, beat Dorset by seven wickets at Wimborne to finish with 73 points, 14 more than Berkshire, who were 12 ahead of third-placed Cheshire.
The game did not get underway until 4pm on Sunday after the previous day's heavy rain had left parts of the ground flooded and the Falkland ground staff deserve a lot of praise for getting the wicket playable. It was a full day's work for them on what is normally their day off.
Berkshire, put in to bat, were dismissed for 190, but on a turning wicket the visitors could only muster 92 in reply and the hosts took further control of the game by scoring 252-9dec in the second innings to set Cheshire a target of 351, but they could only make 192 with Will Evans contributing 71 of them.
All 20 Cheshire wickets in the match fell to spinners with Euan Woods and Luke Beaven both taking seven and Chris Peploe the other six.
Woods was man of the match, hitting a brilliant 122 not out in the second innings on top of his bowling returns of 5-17 and 2-47. The 22-year-old Henley allrounder also top-scored in Berkshire's first innings with 35.
Whilst this was their last championship match, the season is not over for Berkshire as they will be bidding to retain the 50/50 Trophy when they take on Cumbria at Wormsley in Buckinghamshire on Thursday, September 2.
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