BERKSHIRE produced their most devastating display ever in Twenty20 cricket when beating Herefordshire by 118 runs at Falkland CC last Sunday.

Put into bat in what looked difficult conditions, they posted a useful 173-5 and then incredibly took nine wickets for just 30 runs before a last-wicket stand saw the visitors finish on 55-9.

Last year's Unicorns champions were scheduled to play two games, but the first was abandoned without a ball being bowled as the square was still drying out following rain.

They were put into bat – Berks skipper James Morris would have batted had he won the toss – and Jack Davies and Dan Lincoln laid the foundation of their competitive total by putting on 46 in five overs before the latter was lbw for 32.

Tom Scriven lasted only two balls, but there were useful contributions by Richard Morris with 27 and Andy Rishton 32, while Davies was eventually the fourth man out, bowled for 55 from 44 balls.

Nineteen runs came off the final nine balls with Brandon Gilmour finishing with 14 and Tom Nugent 10 to take Berkshire to 173.

But for the Herefordshire batsmen, the afternoon proved extremely embarrassing.

With Nugent in devastating form, the first three wickets tumbled for just three runs and half the side were back in the pavilion with only six runs on the board.

Shell-shocked Herefordshire improved to 22-6 and 23-7 before losing their next two wickets on 30.

Last pair Riecko Parker-Cole (18no) and Alex Russell (5no) managed to hold out until the end of the 20 overs, taking Herefordshire to 55 and leaving Berkshire with a 118-run victory.

Nugent, probably feeling he had a point to prove after being left out of the side the previous weekend when they lost twice to Oxfordshire at Banbury, took the bowling honours with 4-16 off his four overs.

He also claimed a run-out, while the remaining wickets were shared by Luke Beaven (1-6), Euan Woods (1-1), Ali Raja (1-11) and Brandon Gilmour (1-10).

Berkshire, with three wins and four defeats, finish third in Group Two on seven points, seven fewer than table-topping Buckinghamshire, who join Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire and Dorset in the semi-finals at Wormsley on August 25.

Berkshire and Herefordshire meet again at Colwall in the first of the three-day fixtures starting next Sunday (11am), with the title holders looking to extend their remarkable unbeaten record in the county championship to 27 games.

Skipper James Morris is among those unavailable due to his teaching commitments at Elstree School, leaving his brother, Richard, in charge of the team, who could also be missing Nugent and Chris Peploe.

But James is expecting Berkshire won't find it as easy over the three days.

He explained: "This defeat will hurt them, but Herefordshire are a proud county and I feel sure they will come back much stronger and give us a much tougher test."

He added: "We always the identify the first championship game as a really important one as a win can set you up nicely.

"It is the competition we value the most highly and definitely the strongest we are at, as we have shown by winning it three years running.

"We are now looking to make it four. Making sure the other counties don't close the gap on us fully motivates us."

Looking back on the Herefordshire game, Morris commented: "We were hurting in all honesty from our defeats by Oxfordshire, and felt we had a little bit to put right. The manner in which we played has hopefully done that.

"We were looking at 150 to 160, so to pass that meant we had a really good score on the board.

"It was a bit of a nightmare for the Herefordshire batsmen, but in cricket, you do have days like this."

He added: "We now have some positive momentum going forward to the start of the championship and then the Trophy quarter-final against Cornwall a week later."