DESPITE strong starts in both innings, Cumbria County Cricket Club lost to Berkshire CCC in a close encounter.

The match, the One Day NCCA Trophy Final, was again held at the picturesque cricket ground commissioned 30 years ago by the then owner Sir Paul Getty on his private Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire.

Having beaten two very strong teams at away games down south in the quarter-final (Cambridgeshire) and semi-final (Oxfordshire), Cumbria were well-prepared and positive.

But Cumbria were bested by 5 wickets in this outing.

In previous finals, Cumbria lost a wicket in the first over, but not this year. Openers Ben Walkden (Lancashire 2nds) and Sam Dutton (Furness CC) batted fluently and by the end of the 10-over power play, Cumbria were 48/0.

At the same stage in 2019, they had been 36/2 and in 2021 27/4. The opening partnership of 108 was not broken until the 24th over when Dutton was caught after scoring 67 runs from 65 balls at a strike rate of 103.08.

Given that the previous year Berkshire had been 88/1 at the same stage, Cumbria had every reason to be hopeful of a competitive score. JJ Fielding, whose father JM Fielding played for Cumberland 1996-2006, joined his Lancashire 2nds teammate to put on a second decent partnership of 35 runs before being bowled.

Fourteen balls later, Walkden was caught leaving Cumbria on 149/2 off 34.2. Marcus Stables (Nantwich CC, formerly Cockermouth CC) and Matthew Sempill (Cockermouth CC) looked for a while as if they were going to recreate their winning 150+ run quarter-final partnership.

However Sempill, having to up the run rate, was bowled trying to sweep for 14. Sadly, Cumbria then suffered something of a collapse. Stables diligently anchored until he was bowled with the penultimate ball of the innings having scored 36 runs off 50 balls, 1 four.

Of the remaining batters, only Finlay Richardson (Netherfield CC) reached double figures (14 runs). Having scored 227 for 8 (compared to Berkshire’s 260 for 8 the previous year) Cumbria were in need of early wickets.

The opening bowlers captain Michael Slack (Carlisle CC) and Walkden delivered and by the end of the powerplay Berkshire were 42/2.

Unfortunately for Cumbria, the 135-run 3rd wicket partnership between Euan Woods and Jack Davies took the match away from them. They passed Cumbria’s total in their 38th over.