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New-look Berkshire set for Trophy defence in One Day Competition

26 May 2022
New-look Berkshire set for Trophy defence in One Day Competition

There may be an unfamiliar look to Berkshire’s side this season but their coach, Tom Lambert, has warned that does not mean they should be written off as they begin their defence of the National Counties Trophy. 

Four key members of the squad that won eight pieces of silverware in five seasons – brothers James and Richard Morris, Stewart Davison and Chris Peploe – all retired at the end of last season but Berkshire still have a core group of players who contributed to a bulging trophy cabinet. 

“We worked out during the winter that even without the four players who retired we still have 121 winners’ medals between us, so it’s wrong to keep saying we are missing people we still have a very good core of a side,” Lambert said. 

Dan Lincoln, who has played for Middlesex and Kent in recent seasons, has taken over as captain from the Morris brothers and he can still call on the experienced quartet of Savin Perera, Euan Woods, Andy Rishton, Tom Nugent and Luke Beaven as Berkshire prepare for Sunday’s opening group match against Devon at Henley. 

Berkshire also have a reputation for developing talented youngsters with Toby Albert (Hampshire), Tom Scriven (Leicestershire) and Jack Davies and Toby Greatwood (Middlesex) all contracted to first-class counties. 

Pace bowler Mungo Russell, who has been trialling with Northamptonshire, is fit again having missed most of last season with a stress fracture of the back and leg-spinner Jafer Cohan made a favourable impression when he was given his chance in Berkshire’s recent National Coounties T20 campaign. 

“We do believe that we have got some really good young players and they are only going to progress if we give them opportunities to play,” Lambert said. 

“If our next cycle takes one or two years to get everyone up to speed and come back to where we have been the last six years, then so be it. The sooner it happens the better. If it happens this season then great, if it doesn’t then we have got a job to do to make sure that we are getting up to speed.” 

Last year Berkshire missed out on a record fifth consecutive National Counties Championship title when they suffered a rare three-day defeat against Oxfordshire. But they still ended the season with silverware after they beat Cumbria in the 50-overs Trophy final at Wormsley. 

After five trophy-laden seasons, Lambert is a little more cautious in predicting what his side might achieve this year but that should not be interpreted as a lack of ambition. 

“We haven’t used the terminology we used in 2018, 2019 and 2021 when we were a trophy-winning side and anything below that wasn’t acceptable,” he said. 

“We have certainly not said we don’t want to win trophies and we’ve not used the term:  this is a process and we just want to compete. 

“We just haven’t used that language. We have just talked about how we can get better and how we are going to look to be successful per game. 

“If we can be successful within games then the outcome of that process should be that we are there or thereabouts in competitions. 

“We have enough good players there. We really didn’t burden ourselves at all over the winter by mentioning the names of players who have gone. We are still a very good side and we still expect ourselves to compete. 

“But we also understand that young players will get it wrong at times. We are a younger squad now. We don’t have that backbone of players who will get us out of trouble when we are in trouble or that can figure it out on the pitch. 

“At times people are going to make wrong decisions and we accept that. We don’t use terminology about we are going to win this or prioritise that. It’s about how we go about winning the next game and being better each game. If we do that I think we will be there or thereabouts in tournaments.” 

The early indications suggest that Berkshire are quick learners. Having lost their opening T20 double-header against eventual winners Oxfordshire at the Falkland club in Newbury last month, Berkshire then won their next five matches before defeat in their last group match against Bedfordshire at Ampthill cost them a place at last Sunday’s Finals Day. 

“We went into the T20 competition fairly open-minded. We identified that we probably had to play a slightly different brand of cricket,” Lambert said. 

“In the past we have been a side that looks to get a score on the board and then defend with our strong bowling attack. Over the winter we identified that we probably need to put more runs on the board and play more of an attacking brand. 

“That isn’t easy to do because it takes some work and some backing from us for lads and them trusting us that they can go out and do that. 

“We probably didn’t do that in the first of our two matches against Oxfordshire when we looked a bit young and naïve. But in the second match we were three runs light of chasing 213 when we clicked and let ourselves go. 

“The shackles came off and we were outstanding for the next five games. To win five games on the spin in that format is very difficult. 

“It’s a shame we didn’t get over the line in our last game against Bedfordshire which was probably our worst game of the competition. 

“Perhaps we took our eye off the ball a bit and thought we had done the job. But that’s a good learning for a young side moving forward. 

“We are in a good place and we are very happy with where we are at the moment.” 

National Counties Trophy 

Sunday May 29 (11am) 

Group One 

Eastnor: Herefordshire v Oxfordshire. Scunthorpe: Lincolnshire v Cumbria. 

Group Two 

Bedford School: Bedfordshire v Hertfordshire. Henley: Berkshire v Devon. 

Group Three 

Exning: Cambridgeshire v Cheshire. Mildenhall: Suffolk v Norfolk. 

Group Four 

Port Talbot: Wales NC v Buckinghamshire. Marlborough College: Wiltshire v Dorset. 

 

Details of the Finals Day can be found here...

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