Berkshire got their season off to a rollicking start with two convincing wins against Shropshire at Falkland CC.
The first match of the day was dominated by Mia Rogers, who made an early-season bid for inclusion in Sunrisers’ starting XI when regionals begin in four weeks time.
Shropshire had chosen to bat first after winning the toss, but Rogers’ sharp keeping allowed Berkshire to confine them to 88 for 7 in their 20 overs. Her contributions included whipping off the bails to assist in the run outs of Amy Griffiths and Alice Dixon, snaffling a skier sent up by Lauren Kenvyn (22) to break a 50-run partnership with Alexandra Hale, and two nifty stumpings to hand debutant Kali-Ann Doherty her first two wickets in senior county cricket.
Opening in conjunction with another of the Berkshire debutants, Abigail Avery (27* off 39), Rogers started in measured fashion but grew in confidence as her innings progressed, eventually smashing Kenvyn for six over deep midwicket.
As Berkshire raced along to their total, the only question was whether Rogers would be able to reach her half-century before they ran out of runs needed. It was touch and go but finally, having got back on strike in the 13th over with just a single needed for victory, Rogers pulled confidently for four to finish on 50 not out (from just 35 balls), handing Berkshire a 10-wicket win.
In the second match of the day, with Berkshire batting first this time, Rogers initially picked up where she had left off, but smacked it straight to cover in the fifth over when on 13. Instead Berkshire captain Ashleigh Muttitt did the heavy lifting, driving hard down the ground en route to a run-a-ball 34.
Emily Perrin (3 for 18) dented Berkshire’s efforts as they lost three wickets in the 13th and 14th overs with the score on 83, but Freya Johnson successfully defended the hat-trick ball and Berkshire added 23 runs in the final five overs to finish on 116 for 6.
Shropshire made a go of it in the run chase, reaching 37 for 1 in the powerplay as captain Lara Jones (24 off 27) gave off-spinner Hollie Summerfield some punishment.
But Jones was caught pulling Ava Lee to backward square leg in the 9th and Summerfield had the last laugh with a tidy spell at the death that strangled any last hopes of Shropshire getting across the line. Amanda “Steamer” Potgeiter helped things along with a direct-hit run out from mid-on to see off Hale for 0.
In a dramatic final over, with Shropshire needing an improbable 27 for the win, Freya Johnson finished things off in a style for the Beavers by taking four wickets – three of them bowled – as Shropshire were all out for 94 off the final ball of the match.
The double-win puts Berkshire top of Group 2 of the Women’s County T20 competition, ahead of rivals Worcestershire and Staffordshire.