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National Counties Trophy final preview

1 Sep 2021
National Counties Trophy final preview

Cumbria’s chairman of cricket Gareth White believes that the pressure will be on Berkshire in Thursday’s National Counties Trophy final at Wormsley (10.30am).

Berkshire edged out Cumbria – then Cumberland – by one run in the final the last time the competition was played two years ago.

It will be the same teams at the same venue this week but with one significant difference. This year Berkshire cannot complete a Trophy and Championship double having missed out on the chance to make history by becoming the first side to lift the three-day title for a record fifth successive season.

A heavy defeat against Oxfordshire in the penultimate round of matches meant that Berkshire will be missing from the Championship final for the first time since 2015 leaving the Trophy as the only silverware they can win this season.

“Berkshire are a county who are steeped in success especially in recent years and missing out on the three-day competition when you have got the players of the quality they have, I think they will feel under pressure to deliver the Trophy,” White said.

“Whereas our lads will be going in there confident in how they can play because they have seen that they can get to this stage and beat good teams like Staffordshire and Cheshire en route to the latter stages of the competition.

“We are going in as underdogs and all the pressure is on Berkshire especially after that disappointment. We saw how good a side they were in 2019 and their recent history is excellent in  both in red ball and white ball competitions.

“They are a very good side and they would expect to win the game on Thursday. But I know from a Cumbrian perspective that our team will put up a spirited performance and do their best to bring the Trophy back up North.”

Cumbria expect to be well supported at Wormsley – as they would have been had rain not reduced their semi-final against Cambridgeshire at Keswick to a bowl-out – with local interest stirred by the decision to change the name of the county club from Cumberland to Cumbria this year.

“Cumberland hasn’t existed since 1974 when the boundaries changed and Cumbria became a county in it’s own right. The only aspects of Cumberland that remained were the county Football Association and the County Cricket Club,” White said.

“We have brought everything in line with our Cricket Board and all the county teams from Under-11s upwards. Everything is now clearly aligned and correlates with each other.

“We wanted to have a fresh start and brand it in a way that people in the county would buy into and it’s been hugely successful.”

Ten of Cumbria’s 13-man squad named for the final play their club cricket in the county including Cockermouth batsman Alex Grainger who is in line to make his seasonal debut.

Grainger’s last appearance for Cumbria came in the 2019 final but he has been called up because Nathan Waterston is doubtful because of a shoulder injury.

White, a former Cumberland batsman, will miss the final as he works as a primary school teacher and his summer holiday ends on Wednesday.

Berkshire have named a 13-man squad for the final which is the 11 that beat Wales NC in the semi-final plus all-rounder Tom Scriven, who has been made available by Hampshire, and wicketkeeper/batsman Stewart Davison.

"We’re all hugely excited to be returning to Wormsley. It’s a place that holds so many fond memories and we’re desperate to create some more,” said Berkshire coach Tom Lambert.

“We are under no illusions that in Cumbria we face the stiffest of tests and expect nothing less than a repeat of our final in 2019.

“We can’t wait to get there and, as we always have,  we’ll enjoy the day. It’s a special place. We look forward to seeing our supporters and we’ll do our best to make them happy."

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