Mordt despair at lack of action
BERKSHIRE skipper Bjorn Mordt said this season is proving the worst of his career as far as the lack of cricket is concerned..
The county' s third championship game of the season against Shropshire at Falkland CC this week was restricted to less than a day.
Rain and a saturated outfield prevented any play on Sunday and Tuesday, while Sunday's action was restricted from 1.20pm to 7.30pm.
“The season is proving very frustrating for us, but other counties are in the same boat,” said Mordt. "It is a shame really as we all want to play some cricket. “I’ve been skipper for six seasons and played for nine or 10 and I have never known so many matches to be rained off. “I think it would have been a really good game as Shropshire are top of the (Western Division) table and are a very good side.”
But at least the half-day’s play that was possible saw some very entertaining cricket. And it is one that Berkshire batsman James Morris will remember for a long time.
With weather conditions favouring the bowling it came as no surprise when Shropshire skipper Ed Foster won the toss and elected to field. Their strong pace attack was able to get plenty of movement off the pitch and soon had Berkshire in trouble. Three wickets tumbled for 18, including that of skipper Bjorn Mordt for a duck, and half the side were back in the pavilion for 67. All were either caught by wicketkeeper Anthony Parker or in the slips.
But then the 27-year-old schoolmaster came to Berkshire’s rescue. Looking confident and playing the ball powerfully off his toes, Morris seized the initiative from the bowlers. The Falkland player reached 50 off 86 balls and then his century off 177 balls with the help off 11 boundaries. But at 107 he attempted a reverse sweep, didn’t get enough contact and was caught by Parker.
“I was pleased with my innings as I have played so little cricket this season,” said Morris. He had been involved in two useful partnerships – 85 for the sixth wicket with Stewart Davison (22) and 71 for the seventh with Shaun Udal (32). Tailenders Ian Sturmer (29) and Gurveer Singh (16no) added a lively 49 for the last wicket, which fell at 280 in the 83rd over.
In reply, Shropshire openers Foster and Richard Oliver hammered 50 off the first five overs, forcing Mordt to take Tom Nugent and Sturmer out of the firing line. The Henley allrounder brought himself on and dismissed both batsmen, as well as Omar Ali, to leave Shropshire 79-3 at close of play. And, sadly, that was also the end of the game.
Berkshire’s next game is against last season’s national champions Devon at Finchampstead on July 22-24.
The game eventually got under way on Day 2 at 1.20 with Berkshire being put in to bat by the visitors, Shropshire. The innings began disastrously in conditions that suited the Shropshire bowlers, who were able to get plenty of movement off the pitch. Five wickets went down for 67, all of them off edges which were snapped up by the wicketkeeper and the slips.
But James Morris led a spirited recovery, making 107 off 191 balls. Morris and Stewart Davison (22) put on 86 for the sixth wicket, while the Falkland player and Shaun Udal (32) added another 71 for the next wicket.
The total was on 229 when Morris was caught close to the wicket off an attempted reverse sweep. Tailenders Ian Sturmer (29) and Gurveer Singh (16no) added 49 runs for the last wicket, which fell at 280 in the 83rd over.
Shropshire openers Ed Foster and Richard Oliver hammered 50 off the first five overs, forcing Berkshire skipper Bjorn Mordt to change his bowlers. He brought on himself and it paid off, as he dismissed both batsmen, as well as Omar Ali, leaving him with 3-16 off 4.2 overs and Shropshire on 79-3 off 14.2 overs.
No play was possible on the first day of Berkshire's Championship match with Shropshire at Falkland CC.
Heavy rain had left puddles on the outfield and not even a groundsman of the calibre of Wilson Carlisle was able to perform a miracle to get the ground in a playable condition.
Hopefully, we will see some play on Monday, but that will depend on a long spell without any rain - and that hasn't been happening too often in recent weeks.
Steve Naylor returns to the Berkshire side for their Minor Counties Championship match against Shropshire at Falkland CC which starts on Sunday (11am).
The former Henley batsman, now playing for Sedgefield in the North Yorkshire South Durham League, is one of four changes to the side which drew a rain-affected game with Wiltshire last week.
Falkland allrounder James Morris and Henley wicketkeeper Stewart Davison, neither of whom were available for the trip to Corsham, return, while there is also a recall for Oratory pupil Tom Nugent.
Henley paceman Nugent will be joined in the pace attack by East Grinstead's Ian Sturmer, who made his debut against Wiltshire.
Michael Roberts, who topped the Berkshire batting averages last season, is again absent due to commitments with Hampshire's 2nd XI. Roberts played in two one-day games against Middlesex 2nd at the Old Merchant Taylors ground last week. He had a best score of 30 but was on the losing side both times.
In Monday's game, former Reading spinner Luke Beaven took 6-26 off eight overs for Hampshire.
Berkshire and Shropshire are the last two winners of the MCCA Trophy.
Bjorn Mordt led his side to victory when they last met in 2010, but that was only Berkshire's fourth win in 25 championship fixtures between the two counties. Shropshire have managed five, with the other 16 games all ending in a draw.
Manager Jeff Jones said: "We have been frustrated by rain in our last two games so we are hoping for three days of fine weather and a good match with Shropshire."
The Berkshire team is: David Barnes (Henley), James Morris (Falkland), Matt Jones (Finchampstead), Bjorn Mordt (capt, Henley), Steve Naylor (Sedgefield), Euan Brock (Henley), Shaun Udal (Leatherhead), Stewart Davison, Tom Nugent, Gurveer Singh (all Henley), Ian Sturmer (East Grinstead). 12th man: Shelvin Gumbs (Reading).