Despite a valiant rearguard action by Berkshire’s Lissy MacLeod and Fi Morris, it was Somerset who finished on top of today’s fifth-round Championship contest, gaining their first victory of the season thanks to early inroads into Berkshire’s top order by Moira Comfort (3-21).
With Berkshire chasing just 139, Somerset needed to strike early, and they did, with Comfort’s dippy medium-pace proving difficult to negotiate. Linsey Smith (3) was first to go, caught by Cassie Coombes at mid-on in the fourth over. Four overs later she was followed back to the pavilion by Heather Knight, bowled off her pads for 8. By the time Comfort took her third wicket, having bowled unchanged for 10 overs, Berkshire had slid to 38-5 and their target looked of Everest proportions.
Nonetheless they got within tantalising reach, thanks to a 46-run eighth-wicket partnership between MacLeod and Morris (24). While MacLeod batted in her usual carefree fashion for a well-deserved 54*, Morris’s effort was particularly brave given that an injury sustained earlier in the day was restricting her movement considerably.
Sadly she could not quite see her team over the line, falling to Anya Shrubsole’s penultimate ball of the day. Berkshire were eventually all out for 124, just 16 runs short of their target.
It transpired, then, that Somerset’s 139 – made on a stodgy Midsomer Norton pitch, which three days earlier had been entirely under water due to a flash flood – was just enough to see them home. While Berkshire, despite the absence of leading strike bowler Lauren Bell from the attack, did not bowl badly – two wickets in two balls from the ferocious-looking Rachel Hardy being a particular highlight – they will no doubt be ruing their performance in the field. Georgina Adcock (25), Sophie Luff and Anya Shrubsole all survived early chances, and while Luff did not make hay – trapped lbw to Immie Brown for 9 – the other two most certainly did, with Shrubsole finishing unbeaten on 60.
Speaking to CRICKETher after the game, Anya Shrubsole said that she was confident at the halfway mark that 139 was a good score on this pitch: “It was a really difficult pitch to bat on. It spun, it was slow and the bounce wasn’t that consistent. We always knew it was one of those games where if we got runs on the board and then took a couple of early wickets we’d put them under pressure, and it showed.”
She was also pleased at being able to contribute with the bat: “I rode my luck a little bit, getting dropped a couple of times early on, but I owe the team some runs…I’m pleased to be able to grind out probably the ugliest 60 I’ve ever scored!”