CHRIS Peploe produced an incredible performance with both bat and ball as Berkshire crushed Oxfordshire by an innings and 53 runs at Challow & Childrey, writes Dave Wright.

He made 103 on Sunday and then took 8-15 off 20.2 overs as Oxon were dismissed for 131 in their second innings on Monday.

This win assures them of retaining the Western Division title with a game to play and keeps them on course for a Unicorns Counties double.

They meet Lincolnshire in the one-day Trophy final at Wormsley on Wednesday, August 23 and could face the same opponents in the championship play-off – a repeat of last year – at Banbury on August 27-30.

For Peploe, it was his first century for the county and the best bowling figures of his career.

And the 36-year-old former Middlesex player achieved it despite nursing a groin injury sustained early in his innings.

“He has been absolutely sensational,” said skipper James Morris. “I am really delighted for him getting his first 100 (for Berkshire) and he bowled superbly on a wicket where everything was in his favour and he exploited it perfectly.”

Morris added: “It was an amazing team performance and we’re all delighted to be through to another final.

“It’s great to win the Western Divison title with an unbeaten record and we are now looking forward to retaining the national title as well. That has been a big motivation for us all the way through the season.”

The Berkshire captain played a part in Peploe’s century, as he was his runner for much of his 136-minute innings after Peploe has sustained his groin injury with 15 runs to his name.

The quick running between Morris and Andy Rishton certainly helped Peploe build up his and Berkshire’s total as they regained control of the game after being reduced to 72-4 as they replied to Oxon’s first innings of 207 off 80.3 overs.

Initially, it was Morris and Rishton who got Berks back on track with a stand of 76, which ended when the skipper was lbw for 34. But it was the combination of Rishton, Peploe and runner Morris who saw Berkshire take a stranglehold on the game.

Their sixth-wicket stand was worth 118 – in 27.2 overs – before Rishton was bowled for 89, which came off 137 balls and contained nine boundaries. That took Berkshire on to 266-6 in 75 overs.

Stewart Davison smacked 26 before Peploe reached his century, only then to be bowled for 103 off 121 balls including one maximum and 10 fours.

Joe Thomas made a late flurry of runs, reaching his half-century off just 18 balls before finishing unbeaten on 57 off 21 with four sixes and the same number of fours.

With Tom Nugent contributing five, Thomas added 66 off 27 deliveries for the ninth wicket.

This took the total to an impressive 391-9 by the end of 90 overs, giving them a very commanding lead of 184 runs.

Oxon did slightly threaten to cancel out their deficit when reaching 103-2, but then collapsed dramatically as Peploe ripped through the order.

Only home skipper Jon Cater offered any stiff resistance, surviving 80 minutes at the crease whilst making just 17 not out off 78 balls.

Morris again proved a good assistant for Peploe, taking four catches, three in the slips and one at leg slip.

Berkshire have got the perfect professional in Peploe, the perfect captain in Morris and a team looking capable of going through the championship with an unbeaten record for the third year in succession.

Their final Western Division game is against Devon at Exeter starting on August 13.

Oxon 1st innings 207 (Rawlins 60, Cater 59; Woods 3-11, Nugent 3-71).

Berks 1st innings 391-9 (Peploe 103, Rishton 89, Thomas 57no; Taylor 3-61, Bethell 3-80).

Oxon 2nd innings 131 (Condon 40; Peploe 8-15).