Berkshire 144 (Jack Davies 31, Chris Peploe 31; Toby Bulcock 3-25)
Cumberland 143-9 (Bulcock 29no; Euan Woods 3-23, Luke Beaven 3-31)
Berkshire won the Minor Counties Trophy for a record-equalling fifth time by beating Cumberland by one run in a thrilling final at Wormsley.
A match that ebbed and flowed was decided by a nerveless final over from Berkshire seamer Tom Nugent. Cumberland needed five to level scores and win by losing fewer wickets but Adam Syddall managed only two off the first five deliveries.
With three needed off the last ball, Syddall drove Nugent to long-on but could manage only two which was the cue for Berkshire’s celebrations as they won their sixth trophy in four seasons. Berkshire also became the first side to successfully defend a total below 200 since the Trophy began in 1986.
Although the match was low-scoring and a slow pitch stifled strokeplay, it produced a compelling contest unfolded with the innings following a roughly similar pattern.
Berkshire were deep in trouble until the experienced Chris Peploe rallied them with a resourceful 31. Although their total of 144 looked at least 20 below par, it soon began to look imposing as Sam Dutton was caught behind off the first ball of Cumberland’s chase.
Berkshire used their four spinners cleverly but all were bowled out by the 48th over which left Berkshire captain James Morris to recall Nugent and his fellow seamer Andy Rishton which put pace back on the ball.
Toby Bulcock, who followed up his three wickets with 29 not out, crashed Nugent for four through the covers but then lost the strike for most of the last two overs.
Peploe won the match award as much for his batting as for his miserly bowling – 10-1-16-2 – and it was his eighth-wicket partnership of 40 with Nugent that got Berkshire to a winning total.
Bulcock, a slow left-armer, and former Leicestershire off-spinner Jacques du Toit returned combined figures of 20-3-53-4 which hinted at what was to come for Cumberland.
Slow left-armer Luke Beaven took the new ball and removed Dutton and Toby Mowat in his first two overs and off-spinner Euan Woods filleted the middle order.
At 95-8 Cumberland looked to be heading for defeat but wicketkeeper Ben Howarth and Bulcock added 26 for the ninth wicket and Bulcock and Syddall took the game to the wire.