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King conquers for dominant Wiltshire

By Will Jackson

Wiltshire romped home to their third straight victory with a convincing nine-wicket win over Berkshire to stay top of the Unicorns Championship Western Division.

The league leaders travelled to Enborne Lodge to take on a Berkshire side languishing at the foot of the table and, although Richard Morris struck a fluent 104, Joseph King took 6-56 to help restrict the home team to 282.

Wiltshire were in some trouble at 89 for five but some quick late-order runs from Tahir Afridi helped push to score up to 314 and give them a first-innings lead, which they took immediate advantage of as they skittled through the Berkshire line-up, dismissing them for just 106.

Needing just 75 to maintain their 100% record, Wiltshire cantered to victory in just 12.4 overs, losing Jayden Levitt for an aggressive 33 as they eased home early on the third day.

Devon's pursuit of the leaders was held up by Cheshire who maintained their own unbeaten run with a draw at the second-placed side.

Jack Popham took 5-39 as Devon did well to reduce the away team to 349 all out but in reply they could only muster 272 despite the best efforts of skipper Joshua Bess, who hit his first century of the season to haul his side to a competitive total.

Cheshire set a fourth-innings target of 280 for Devon, but the home side were left to hang on for a draw despite the best efforts on Bess, whose 93 looked to have given his side a chance before his dismissal. 

Wales Minor Counties slipped below Cheshire in the table with a draw at home to Cornwall, who fell agonisingly short of a dramatic run-chase.

Greg Holmes hit 104 as the home side posted 235 before bowling Cornwall out for just 142. Wales Minor Counties then reached 197 for nine in their second innings to set Cornwall an unlikely target of 291.

Centuries from Jake Libby and Christian Purchase, the latter’s a devastating knock from just 61 deliveries, took them to 286 for nine as they fell just five runs short with one wicket in hand in a tense finish.

Ryan Scott hit an unbeaten half-century as Dorset beat Herefordshire by four wickets at Eastnor

Struggling Shropshire claimed their first win of the season in a bottom-of-the-table clash, as they overcame Oxfordshire by 166 runs.

Shropshire posted 284 in the first innings, Ryan Lockley top-scoring with 74, but conceded a first-innings lead as the visiting Oxfordshire side amassed 323 for six declared thanks largely to an unbeaten Jonathan Cater century.

Another Lockley half-century helped his side reach 259 and set a chase of 221 on the final day. Shropshire then blitzed the opposition batting line-up as they dismissed Oxfordshire for just 54 in 29 overs, with ex-Yorkshire spinner Gurman Randhawa claiming 4-15.

Dorset upset Hertfordshire in a low-scoring game that lasted just two days.

Tom Hicks returned match figures of 9-111 as Dorset bowled their opponents out for 151 and 176 respectively. After struggling to 120 in reply, they were set 208 to win but they got there comfortably to win by four wickets thanks to an unbeaten half-century from Ryan Scott.

Staffordshire moved further clear in the Eastern Division following a 10-wicket win over Northumberland.

Northumberland posted 245 but were well surpassed by the home side, who reached 364 for eight before declaring with Michael Hill unbeaten with 149.

In their second innings Northumberland could only make 160, despite Richard Coughtrie's second fifty of the game, and Staffordshire knocked off 47 runs required in just 5.2 overs.

Lincolnshire kept up the pressure on the top of the table as they upset previous league leaders Cambridgeshire, winning by 44 runs.

The two sides were well-matched in the first innings after Lincolnshire chose to bat. The visitors made 243 and took a lead of 32 runs into the second innings after bowling out Cambridgeshire for 211.

After only managing 191 to set a final target of 224, Lincolnshire bowled the home side out for 179 with leg-spinner Alex Osmond taking 4-46 to add to his 4-27 in the first innings.

Cumberland were frustrated by a Bedfordshire side still without a win this year as they drew to lose ground on the league leaders.

Bedfordshire's 276 was surpassed by Cumberland's 401 for seven, with England's famous substitute fielder Gary Pratt hitting an unbeaten 135.

However Pratt and his men struggled second time round with the ball as Bedfordshire amassed 443 to effectively draw the game. They set an unlikely target of 319 in but the chase fizzled out in 17 overs.

Suffolk's first win of the season came at the courtesy of Buckinghamshire in a nine-wicket win at the Ipswich School Ground.

Shaan Khan's knock of 132 at the top of the order helped Buckinghamshire to 320 but in reply Billy Root - brother of England batsman Joe - took centre stage as he hit an unbeaten 210 in quick time, which helped Suffolk to a first innings lead of 128.

Thomas Huggins then added four second innings wickets to his five in the first to bowl Buckinghamshire out for 152 and set a target of just 25 for the home team, which they reached for the loss of just one wicket.

The two struggling teams Hertfordshire and Norfolk shared the points at The Common despite the best efforts of former Derbyshire and Durham batsman Garry Park.

Park struck 48 and 109 as his side posted scores of 197 and 292. After a first-innings score of 274, Hertfordshire were set a target of 216 but reached 124 for one as the game ended in a draw to leave Norfolk stranded at the bottom of the table.

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