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Amanda Potgieter scores 35 not out to inspire her side to victory to kick-start their County Championship campaign
Maidenhead: Essex 100, Berkshire 101-5 - Berkshire won by five wickets
An undefeated 35 off 56 balls from Amanda Potgieter took Berkshire to a five-wicket victory over Essex in the first round of Division Two of the County Championship at North Maidenhead Cricket Club.
Chasing just 101 to win, Berkshire got off to a wobbly start, losing openers Emily Cunningham and Millie Allerton cheaply to leave them 8 for 2 after eight overs.
But captain Lissy MacLeod (30) and new signing Anya Shrubsole (22) steadied the ship to put the Beavers on course for victory, hitting through the aggressive fields set by Essex, which at one point included two slips and a short leg.
Nonetheless, there was still work to do after Shrubsole was adjudged to have nicked behind to keeper Scarlett Hughes off Mady Villiers and MacLeod was bowled by opposing skipper Kelly Castle.
But from 74 for 5, with plenty of time in hand, Potgieter and 19-year-old Scottish glove-butler Ellen Watson (5*) kept their cool to guide Berkshire home with 14 overs to spare.
Earlier, England prospect Lauren Bell had taken 3-21 as Essex were bowled out for exactly 100, with extras making up all-but half the total at 47, and no batter reaching double figures.
Bell opened the bowling with Shrubsole, with the ball swinging under heavy skies, and it wasn’t long before the World Cup winner was in the scorebook at her new county, bowling both Essex openers – Beth Harmer and Kelly Castle – for a single apiece.
Bell then accounted for Mady Villiers, bowled for four, and Catherine Dalton, run out for eight, to leave the visitors in real trouble at 28 for 4.
By that stage, the battle for Essex was just to hang around long enough to make it interesting, and they just about did – Jess Bird seeing off 31 deliveries on her way to eight, and Hayley Arrol lasting 35 balls for three – as the visitors collapsed over the finish line to close on 100: Bell cleaning up the tail by bowling Arrol and keeper Scarlett Hughes for 4-21.
But it wasn't to be for Essex, who will be hoping to put a few more runs on the board when they travel to Wales next weekend.
Meanwhile Berkshire will go into tomorrow’s Women’s County Cricket Day fixture against Worcestershire with a degree of confidence, bolstered by the return of Heather Knight to their lineup, hoping to make it two-from-two from the opening weekend.
The Cricketer is syndicating CRICKETher's coverage of women's domestic cricket in England and Wales throughout the 2019 season