We're into July and the season gathers momentum with action in both the NCCA Trophy and the three-day Championship - with Berkshire looking to retain both titles. Important dates are:
July 11th-13th: Championship game against Wiltshire at Corsham.
July 18th: Trophy quarter-final against Devon at Sidmouth.
Tue July 20th: v Middlesex at Falkland - CANCELLED
July 27-29: U18s v Surrey at LSE New Malden.
As far as the Championship is concerned, Berkshire are looking to make history by winning the title for the fifth time in a row. They equalled the record of Devon, who won four consecutive titles between 1994 and 1997 when they won the last Minor Counties Championship in September 2019. The competition was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Head of performance Tom Lambert commented: “It seems a long time since the last Championship ball was hit for four in September 2019, so we are really looking forward to it.”
This year is a bit different as the competition has been reduced from six to four games.
The revised Championship format sees the Eastern and Western Divisions split into two leagues of five counties each with promotion and relegation between the two. The winners of Eastern Division One and Western Division One will meet in the final at Tring in September.
In an interview with the NCCA's Paul Bolton, Lambert said: “I think the NCCA have done a tremendous job in re-branding. It was disappointing that we lost the T20 again this season and that we are down to four Championship games instead of six, but it is what it is. What it will make is for some exciting cricket. With four divisional games, it makes it a bit of sprint finish to get to a final and you can’t make too many mistakes.”
With the emphasis on playing young homegrown players, Tom accepts that managing his squad will be a challenge.
“The strict age regulations have meant that we had to spell it out to the lads that there will be changes each week and people will have to accept that there will be weeks when they miss out for age-related reasons or availability reasons,” he said.
Josh Lincoln has become the latest player from Berkshire's highly productive pathway to make the 1st XI after being named in the team to play Wiltshire. The 23-year-old's career as a county player goes back to 2008 when he played for the Under-10s. Also included in that team was Tom Scriven and Euan Woods.
Turning to the Trophy, the full draw for the quarter-finals on Sunday, July 18 is:
Barrow: Cumbria v Suffolk
Exning: Cambridgeshire v Cheshire
Sidmouth: Devon v Berkshire
Port Talbot: Wales NC v Herefordshire.
Wales NC, who won three Group 4 games before losing to Berkshire at Newport, are the only quarter-finalists yet to win the Trophy while Herefordshire will be making their first appearance in the knockout stages in five years. Cambridgeshire were the only team to win all four of their group matches.
Dan Lincoln, who was in the team that defeated Wales, returned to Newport to play for Northamptonshire against Glamorgan in the Second XI Championship. He scored 24 off 58 balls in the first innings and 12 from 25 in the second. Northants lost by an innings and 114 runs in a game that was dictated by Australian Test star Marnus Labuschagne with a double century.
He had been forced into 10 days isolation after being deemed to be a close contact of Glamorgan’s Nick Selman, who tested positive for Covid and was unable to turn out for Glamorgan’s County Championship side as his isolation period did not expire in time.
The 27-year-old was in sensational form as he racked up an astonishing 276 off 268 balls which included a whopping 32 fours and four sixes. His score eclipsed the previous record for Glamorgan’s seconds, which was held by Ian Thomas who hit 267 in 2003.
Tegid Philips, who had taken three wickets for Wales in their defeat by Berkshire, claimed 6-56 to wrap up victory for Glamorgan over Northants.
Berkshire CCC express their gratitude to those companies who are sponsoring them this season, namely Newbury Building Society (their logo is on the players' shirts), ServiceMaster, MWH Wines, West Berkshire Brewery, Donnington Hospital Trust, Serious Cricket and Phoenix Retail, while Elstree School and Wellington College have continued their support of the Berkshire Yearbook.