THE champagne was still flowing as history-making Berkshire celebrated winning the Unicorns Championship for the second year running when skipper James Morris turned his thoughts to the 2018 season, writes Dave Wright.

His side had become the first county to win the three-day championship and the Minor Counties knock-out trophy in the same year.

But they have no intentions of sitting back on their laurels.

“There is still more to come from this side and we are now looking to win all three competitions next year,” said Morris.

The MCCA are planning to launch a 20/20 competition for member clubs before the start of the three-day championship, while turning the Unicorns Trophy into a straight knock-out event.

The Berkshire captain added: “Our motivation this year was to win the championship and KO cup as it had never been achieved before, and we did that. Now our aim will to become the first county to win all three competitions in the same season.

“With the squad we’ve got, we feel that is achievable.”

His squad has grown in strength, with 20 players being used. Several of the newcomers were youngsters and they added both quantity and quality.

Berkshire won all seven one-day games, in addition to beating Wiltshire in the Marlborough Cup and Bedfordshire in a friendly.

They retained the Championship without losing a game, extending their unbeaten run to a very impressive 20 games – 18 in the Western Division and two in the play-offs, both at the expense of Eastern Division champions Lincolnshire.

“I am hugely proud of what we have achieved,” said an emotional Morris shortly after their six-wicket win over Lincs at Banbury on Wednesday last week.

“Tom Lambert (coach) and I were just talking about what makes us the happiest. While the trophies and accolades are all brilliant and well received, it is actually to see the young lads we bring into the team perform the way they do.

“We hadn’t seen Jack (Davies) for several weeks, but he comes back into the team and produces a knock like that – he was unbelievable.”

The 17-year-old Davies had seen four wickets tumble for 135, with Berkshire still needing another 156 to beat Lincolnshire.

But he and Andy Rishton (76 not out) produced an unbroken partnership which Morris described as “among the best I have ever seen” from two Berkshire players.

“They were sensational,” he said. “They got together, planned how about they were going to go about things, they kept calm and scored runs at pace – it was absolutely magic, I will never forget it.”

Davies was named the man of the match for his 127no – a year after another Berkshire youngster, Euan Woods, had earned the award for his 142no.

Left-arm spinner Chris Peploe took 11 wickets during last week’s game, taking his tally for the season to 50 in the championship.

His 60-over shift in Lincolnshire’s second innings was also the longest of his career and this season he bowled more overs than any other player in Minor Counties cricket.

  • BERKSHIRE are mourning the death of Ralph Dellor, a club director and life member who passed away suddenly at the age of 69 after a short illness.

He was a highly respected cricket coach, presenter, author and commentator for many years.

TV personality Chris Hollins described Ralph as a “truly wonderful man” adding: “A real gentleman who loved his cricket.”

Adam Mountford, the producer of the BBC’s Test Match Special, said: “He had an ageless voice and incredible enthusiasm for cricket,” while former England Women’s captain Charlotte Edwards described him as “a true professional and always a pleasure to work with.”

Ralph had been connected to Berkshire since 1982, initially as a coach, but later was heavily involved in the restructuring of cricket in the county in 1994, helping them to become one of the leading and most successful minor counties in the country.

His son, Tim, is a sports presenter on BBC Radio Berkshire.