A half century from Australian overseas Sophie Day set Berkshire up for a 36-run victory over Durham, which combined with Devon’s loss to Essex put the Beavers 11* points clear at the top of Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship.
Day, together with Emily Cunningham, got Berkshire off to a great start on the way to a hundred partnership – Cunningham hitting Rachel Petherick for 4-6-4 in her second over, as the Beavers, whose batting has struggled of late, cantered to 50-0 off the first 10 overs.
After seven 4s and one 6, Cunningham was eventually undone by one that kept low from England Academy leg-spinner Helen Fenby, LBW for 41; but the left-handed Day went on to bring up her 50 in the 28th over with a pull through midwicket for two, before being bowled shortly afterwards by Hannah Knowles for 59.
England captain Heather Knight followed shortly afterwards, caught off a toe-edge for a nice 38, but with the score on 174 Berkshire were already in a very strong position.
With heavy drizzle coming down and the ball slipping around like a raccoon on roller-skates, spinner Laura Ellison struggled with her length, finding herself called for no balls for both high full tosses and double-bounces – but still managed to get the wicket of Anya Shrubsole, who plonked a full toss straight into the hands of Ami Campbell at mid off.
But a 40-run partnership between Lissy Macleod and Amanda Potgieter took Berkshire past the 200 required for maximum batting bonus points. Potgieter was eventually clean-bowled for 15 by Hannah Knowles; but Mcleod continued to tonk and bonk her way to 53 off 43 balls, helping Berkshire to a final total of 284-6.
In reply, Durham made it through the powerplay for the loss of just 1 wicket – Laura Hockaday LBW to Anya Shrubsole; but a second wicket followed almost immediately afterwards – Rachael Petherick also LBW to Phoebe Graham, leaving them 42-2.
Durham kept wickets in hand, but the run rate was starting to climb, and by the time drinks were taken at 17 overs it had already hit an ominous 7-per-over.
Remarkably though Durham, who had just the one win coming into this match, were keeping up more or less with that rate, hitting at around 7-an-over to keep the chase in sight, as Rachel Hopkins and Becky Glen targeted cow corner with some lusty blows to put on 81 for the 3rd wicket, until Glen became the 3rd LBW dismissal of the innings to Kate Coppack.
But the turning point came with the dismissal of Hopkins, who got to a half century before she went for one big shot too many against Macleod, lost her balance and was stumped for 54.
As darkness began to descend upon both Durham and the greying skies above North Maidenhead CC, Ami Campbell (42) skied a slog-sweep towards Heather Knight at long off – the England captain making no mistake taking the catch; and Emily Cunningham took a brilliant one-handed catch at gully, leaping high and back to dismiss Laura Ellison off Phoebe Graham for 16.
Berkshire’s thoughts could then turn towards bonus points, which they duly reeled-in, Graham finishing with 3-39 and Coppack with 3-38, as Durham closed on 249-9, with Berkshire taking a maximum 18 points from the game.
* The current table shows a 9-point gap, but Devon have incorrectly banked bonus points from their abandoned match against Berkshire last weekend, which (we assume!) will at some point be removed.