BERKSHIRE, playing like champions, made it three wins out of three to stay top of the Minor Counties Western Division by outclassing previously unbeaten Shropshire, writes Dave Wright.

Having set the visitors 416 to win, they blasted them out for just 93 to secure a 322-run win with spin maestro Chris Peploe taking five wickets and Ali Raja three.

They have not lost a three-day championship game in four years.

The national title holders dominated the game after taking first use of a good batting strip at Finchampstead.

They made 399 all out in their first innings with Richard Morris hitting a magnificent 116 off 165 balls with two sixes and 11 fours.

The Henley batsman was well supported by Finch’s Dan Lincoln with 66 and Andy Rishton with 55.

Of the others, 16-year-old Reading Blue Coat pupil Toby Greatwood, showing maturity beyond his years, scored 22 not out, while last-man Raja made 14, his highest ever score in the championship.

For Shropshire, wicketkeeper Simon Gregory claimed seven victims with four catches and three stumpings.

The visitors finished the opening day on 55-1 and that soon became 55-3 when the hosts made a sensational start on Monday morning, taking two wickets without any addition to the total.

However, Alexei Kervezee then settled into an innings that was to prove invaluable to Shropshire.

While wickets fell regularly at the other end, the former Worcestershire batsman produced a faultless innings, occupying the crease for 214 minutes, cracking 166 off 178 balls with a maximum and 20 boundaries.

He was eventually ninth-man out, caught by Joe Thomas off Raja, with the Shropshire innings ending on 287.

Euan Woods took 3-66 off 19 overs, Peploe 3-88 (35.1), Raja 2-58 (18) and Andy Rishton 1-32 (6).

Wargrave paceman Greatwood was recalled to the attack, but with his second ball, he took a nasty blow on the top of his right foot as Gurjit Sandhu struck a firm delivery back in his direction and he took no further part in the game.

Berkshire, with a healthy first-innings lead of 112, set about improving their advantage on their return to the crease with all batsman making useful contributions, among them Hussain with 61, Woods 55, Richard Morris 39 and Stewart Davison 32.

They declared on 303-8 shortly before lunch on Tuesday, setting Shropshire an improbable target of 416.

And they gained an early success when Omar Ali - brother of England star Moeen Ali - was dismissed for just four after hitting a boundary, an exact copy of his first-innings contribution.

Shropshire were batting very slowly – managing just a run an over at times – but their negativity was soon undone by Berkshire’s persistence, mainly through spin duo Peploe and Woods.

They lost half their side for 49 runs including star man Kervezee for three, with three of the first five victims falling to the cunning spin of Peploe.

And he took two more to finish with 5-35 off 18 overs, while Raja cleaned up the tailenders with 3-6.

They didn’t get turn off the wicket, but certainly bowled with great accuracy.

With Greatwood off the field, the substitute fielder was Josh Lincoln, so joining brother Dan. With the two Morris’ also involved, it meant Berkshire had two sets of siblings playing at the same time – and no-one can ever remember that occurring before.

Berkshire’s next fixture – their last at home this season – is against struggling Devon at Falkland CC on August 5-7.

Finchampstead are hosting an Academy game between Berkshire and Wiltshire on Sunday (11am).