County side earn trip to Cheshire in Unicorns Trophy

Hereford Times: (6542653) (6542653)

HEREFORDSHIRE face a trip to Cheshire after their third win in four group games earned them a place in the Unicorns Trophy quarter-finals.

The county side overcame hosts Berkshire by eight wickets in a rain-shortened match to the delight of chairman of selectors Ernie Morgan.

"It was an excellent performance and the boys were cock-a-hoop after the win," he said.

After prolonged rain on Friday and Saturday, it was little surprise that the game was unable to start at the planned time of 11am.

"The ground at Kidmore End is on a slope and the water had got under the covers," said Morgan.

"But the ground staff worked very hard to get the ground fit and both sides were keen to play - Berkshire, who won the trophy last year, had to beat us to have any chance of qualifying - and the umpires wanted to play, too."

Play was eventually able to get underway at 1.30pm with the match reduced to 41 overs a side.

"It was a very important toss to win and fortunately we won it and asked them to bat," said Morgan.

"Our two opening bowlers Dan Conway and David Ball made very good use of the conditions."

Ball ripped out the first three Berkshire batsmen while Conway, not to be outdone, also collected three early victims as, with Callum Stewart also running out Euan Brock, the home side collapsed to 45-7.

Although not taking any wickets, the Brockhampton duo of Stewart, who conceded 15 runs in seven overs, and Jamie McIlroy, who went for only 13 in six, kept the run rate down.

And with Brad Wadlan chipping in with 2-17 from 6.2 overs, the home side, although rallying slightly with a unbeaten 25 from wicket-keeper Stewart Davidson, were able to reach only 92 before the final wicket fell.

"At the outset, we thought we should easily be able to chase 93 to win," said Morgan.

"But when we slipped to 1-2, we were all thinking 'here we go'.

"Nitesh Patel was bowled and Liam Gwynne got one that stopped which he chipped to mid-on.

"But , after that, Wadlan and Charlie Walker set out to hit the ball and there were a lot of boundaries, although, understandably in view of the conditions, they did play and miss a bit, too.

"In the end, Berkshire really had the stuffing knocked out of them and Walker won the match by hitting the ball back over the sight-screen for six to bring up his 50.

"It was a good ending to the match to lose the ball in the forest," joked the county stalwart.

Walker included nine fours as well as the winning six in his unbeaten 52 from just 53 balss while Wadlan's 40 nit out came from 57 balls with seven fours as Herefordshire reached their victory target from 19.3 overs.

The county side will travel to Chester Boughton Hall to take on Chester on June 15.

"The match comes the Sunday after the three-day game against Cheshire at home so they should be quite familiar to us," said Morgan.

"We're hopeful because we beat them in the competition last year and home advantage does not really count for a great deal.

"We shall be hoping to have Michael O'Shea available again but, set against that, Neil Pinner broke his arm when on trial for Leicestershire. It looks as if he will have to have an operation and so we may not be seeing him again until August."

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