England vice-captain Heather Knight carried her bat for a colossal 162* as Berkshire posted 265/9 before a Daisy Gardner hat-trick ripped up the Sussex top order, with the south coast side eventually subsiding to defeat by 72 runs.
Knight’s innings was the highest score of the season by some margin in the top tier of this year’s Women’s County Championship, and was the kind of dominating performance you would expect from a batsman who, despite a disappointing summer, remains one of the world’s best. Berkshire’s next top scorer was Extras, with 32 including 17 wides and 8 no balls. But as the wickets fell around her, Knight ploughed on, playing confidently off her toes and finding the boundary 21 times, including one huge 6 over deep midwicket off Izy Noakes.
In reply, Izzy Collis and Georgia Adams made it to 50 without loss, before Adams was bowled by Daisy Gardner. Good got better for Gardner as Sarah Taylor departed the very next ball – also bowled for a golden duck – off the final delivery of the over. Gardner’s hat-trick ball in the following over rapped Paige Scholfield on the pads, and after a huge appeal, up went the finger. In between, Lauren Bell had also removed Collis from the other end, and Sussex were reeling, having gone from 50/0 to 53/4 in the blink of an eye.
Despite a defiant 39 from Holly Colvin, there was no way back from there for Sussex; and as news began to filter through that Yorkshire had taken the 18 points they needed from Lancashire to seal the championship, Sussex looked for all the world like their hearts weren’t really in it any more – Fi Morris (4/32) and Lissy Macleod (3/52) doing the rest of the damage as Sussex were bowled out for 193.
Afterwards, happy hat-trick hero Daisy Gardner self-deprecatingly told CRICKETher how she approached that ball to Paige Scholfield:
“Relax, get into my rhythm… and then just appeal loud!”
It was a moment which will long live in the memory as Berkshire look back upon another winning season in Division 1 of the County Championship, with victories against Sussex, Middlesex, Lancashire and Notts; and just the two early-season defeats to Surrey and Yorkshire back in May.
Reflecting upon the summer, Berkshire Manager John Dickinson thanked the Berkshire Cricket Board for backing the team “100 percent” and put their success down to a solid work ethic:
“We don’t have any prima-donas – it’s all down to the team effort that the girls give every week.”
As Sussex celebrated the end of their season by being officially presented with the T20 Cup, Berkshire sat quietly in a circle on the other side of the ground – they may not have had the medals or the champagne… but once again they have a lot to be proud of nonetheless.