Middlesex won the Division Two title by 20 runs in a thrilling match against local rivals Berkshire on Sunday at Mill Hill School.
Alice MacLeod, Berkshire skipper, won the toss and elected to field, Lauren Bell and Phoebe Graham immediately doing just what was required, by bowling a tight line which brought early success. Graham struck first to remove the in-form Cordelia Griffith for two as wicketkeeper Ellen Watson dived to her right to take a good catch. Natasha Miles joined Naomi Dattani but the partnership was brief as Bell bowled Miles for one, showing just why
Middlesex have signed her for T20s. Returning to the side, Emma Albery joined her skipper and the pair put on 15 before Albery was bowled for four with Bell taking her second. Beth Morgan strode to the crease, looking to get Middlesex out of trouble, with Dattani on seven. The pair batted well together, putting the pressure back on Berkshire before Dattani hit a simple catch to Emily Cunningham off MacLeod to depart for 35.
Olivia Rae joined Morgan as the experienced duo looked to build a defendable total. The pair took singles and played each ball on its merit, adding 41 runs before a brilliant piece of keeping from Watson with a flick directly onto the stumps saw Morgan head back to the pavilion for a significant 31. With just over 20 overs remaining, Rae knew it was important to stay and avoid a collapse which could bring the end of the innings. Rae was eventually bowled for a crucial 26 by Graham. Katie Wolfe came in at 11 and played a few nice shots, scoring 19 off 18 in an innings which included three fours before she was trapped lbw by MacLeod. Middlesex were dismissed for 166 with Graham claiming 3-30 and MacLeod 3-37.
Middlesex opened the bowling with Gayatri Gole and Wolfe who have both enjoyed successful seasons. The new ball duo kept the run rate down as Berkshire were 16-0 after 10, though wickets were required as Middlesex were 21-3 at the same stage. A change in bowling saw young seamer Sonali Patel pick up a wicket with her first legal delivery as Sophie Day was caught by Wolfe for three. Off-spinner Albery and Patel continued to apply the pressure and Albery struck in the 21st over, trapping Sherisa Gumbs lbw for eight with the score on 48. The game looked to be drifting away from Middlesex as Cunningham and MacLeod found the boundary on numerous occasions and took the singles and twos on offer. After 30 overs Berkshire were 108-2 with Cunningham on 43 and MacLeod 32.
Leg-spinner Emily Thorpe was brought into the attack for the 31st over and struck with her fourth delivery as Cunningham was caught by Morgan for 43. Wolfe began her second spell next over and continued to apply the pressure, bowling Amanda Potgieter for nought with the score on 111. Bell joined her skipper and the pair ticked the score over nicely, appearing to be on track to reach the target of 167 to win. Wolfe delivered the 38th over and took two wickets in two balls as MacLeod was dismissed for 42 and Graham nought - both adjudged lbw. Thorpe had Bell caught behind for five next over as Berkshire were reduced to 129-7. The game remained in the balance as Patel took her second with Ashleigh Muttitt caught behind for six, the score on 136 in the 42nd over. Freya Johnson and Watson added nine before Johnson was trapped lbw by Thorpe for four. Watson was run out in the next over by Iqraa Hussain for seven as Berkshire were dismissed for 146 and Middlesex won by 20 runs to become Division Two County Champions. Wolfe was the pick of the bowlers, returning the impressive figures of 10-4-12-3, and Thorpe claimed 3-24 from her nine overs.