NATIONAL COUNTIES Western Division preview

NCCA-Logo MasterIn Western Division One Berkshire have the chance to go top against Oxfordshire at Thame. 

Berkshire are currently second in the table just a point behind Dorset, who sit out this round of matches, with Oxfordshire also in contention to finish top and qualify for next month’s final at Tring. 

This weekend’s match will be Berkshire’s 1,00th in the Championship with their first coincidentally also being against Oxfordshire in 1896, also at Thame, albeit at a different venue – the Oxford County School Ground rather than the current club ground at Church Meadow. 

Berkshire have made three changes to the side that beat Wales NC in last weekend’s National Counties Trophy semi-final with opening batsman Toby Albert and Savin Perera and slow left-armer Luke Beaven all unavailable. Matt Rowe and Archie Carter form a new opening partnership with Stewart Davison returning behind the stumps. 

Thame Town opening batsman Ollie Ebsworth-Burland will make his seasonal debut for Oxfordshire on his home club ground. Ebsworth-Burland’s only previous appearance for Oxfordshire came against Cheshire, also at Thame, in September 2019 when he made a second innings century. 

Captain Jonny Cater returns to lead Oxfordshire with seamer Robbie Shurmer also recalled. 

Cheshire, who are three points behind Berkshire, host Wiltshire at Alderley Edge with the visitors needing a win to have any hope of avoiding relegation. Wiltshire are 12 points adrift at the bottom and they are not in action in the final round. 

Timperley seamer Jake Sandham, who played one Trophy match for Cumbria in 2017, will make his debut for Cheshire in a much-changed side. 

Alex Money and Rick Moore will make their first Championship appearances of the season with spinner Simon Normanton and batsman Charles Lowen back in the side. 

Wiltshire have made one change to the side beaten by Oxfordshire two weeks ago with Tahir Afridi returning in place of Josh Croom. 

In Western Division Two, Herefordshire face Wales NC at Eastnor in a potential promotion decider. 

Wales play their final match this weekend and have a 15 points deficit to make up on Herefordshire who travel to Cornwall in the final round. 

Joe Stanley, an off-spinner from Wolverhampton and a member of Worcestershire’s Academy, will make his debut for Herefordshire in place of leg-spinner Alex Russell, who took four wickets for National Counties against MCC on Monday and who is playing for Essex Second XI against Hampshire at Billericay on Monday. 

Batsman Harry Friend, who has been in fine form for Monmouth School, Newport and Glamorgan’s Academy, will make his first appearance of the season for Wales. 

Former Glamorgan batsman Connor Brown returns after missing the draw with Shropshire as does seamer Aneurin Norman, already Wales’ leading all-time wicket-taker, who needs four to reach his century in the Championship. 

Off-spinner Tegid Phillips and seamer Sam Jardine are unavailable this weekend and Andy Gorvin and Steve Reingold are required by Glamorgan. 

Sam Whitney captain Shropshire on his home club ground, Bridgnorth, against Cornwall. 

Shropshire have called up Oxford University batsman George Hargrave, who has been fine form for Shrewsbury in recent weeks, for his Championship debut and first county appearance in four years. 

Worcestershire Academy pair Ben Parker and Harry Cooke, both products of Shropshire’s youth system, are also available this weekend. 

Cornwall, who are 18 points behind Herefordshire, have named the same side that beat Devon at Truro two weeks ago. 

National Counties Championship 

August 15-17 (11am) 

Western Division One
Alderley Edge: Cheshire v Wiltshire
Thame: Oxfordshire v Berkshire 

Western Division Two
Eastnor: Herefordshire v Wales NC
Bridgnorth: Shropshire v Cornwall 

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