England captain Heather Knight top-scored with 32 and took 3 wickets for Berkshire, but it wasn’t enough as Middlesex cruised to victory at Wokingham.
Wokingham is getting a bit of a reputation as being a difficult place to score runs – when Berkshire played Kent and Lancashire here 3 weeks ago, the highest score was just 96 – but Berkshire made it even harder for themselves as they gave Middlesex plenty of catching practice after having won the toss and elected to bat.
It started with Maia Bouchier who, after giving away 4 runs with a ghastly misfield on the deep backward point boundary, more than made up for it with a lovely diving catch to her left at mid off, to dismiss Rachel Priest for 6 off Ria Raval.
Lissy Macleod lasted just 5 balls before popping one up to Anna Nicholls at cover; and then Alex Rogers, off the mark with a beautiful cover drive for 4, soon followed, bowled by Holly Huddleston without adding to her score.
Sherisa Gumbs hung around with Knight for a short while, taking the score to 48-3 at the half-way mark, before she drove Naomi Dattani to short midwicket; and then it was Knight’s turn to head back to the pavilion, after slog-sweeping Dattani straight to Fran Wilson on the midwicket boundary. With Alex Hartley also picking up a couple of late wickets – Amanda Potgieter bowled and Emily Gerke LWB – Berkshire finished on 92-8.
With Daisy Gardner clearly still not quite herself (she bowled 1 over in the middle of the innings, going for 8) and Lauren Bell sitting this one out, Berkshire’s attack lacked any real venom, and it was not until Knight brought herself on in the 4th over that a double breakthrough was made, the England skipper bowling Naomi Dattani for 8 and Tash Miles for 10.
This brought Fran Wilson and Beth Morgan together and they simply turned on the cruise control – Wilson making 27 off 21 balls before she became Knight’s 3rd victim, only to be replaced by Maia Bouchier, who just continued where Wilson had left off – ending up on 21* off 19 balls, with Morgan also not out on 21 (off 22) as Middlesex completed the chase with more than 5 overs to spare.
Afterwards Fran Wilson told CRICKETher that the secret to success here is batting “ugly”:
“It is sometimes a tricky pitch playing here, and low scores can be difficult to chase; but the thing is not being scared to bat a bit ugly – doing all the basics well and running hard, and not being too caught up in looking great or playing flary shots.”
The result means that Warwickshire move above Berkshire to the top of the table – after their victories against Sussex and Lancashire in this round, they need just one more win from their two remaining games next weekend, against Middlesex and Kent, to seal the title.