BERKSHIRE have moved a step closer to completing another Minor Counties Cricket double by reaching the final of the KO Trophy.

Winners two years ago, they secured their place with a four-wicket win over Wiltshire at Finchampstead CC last Sunday after bowling out their visitors for 199.

Their opponents will be Cumberland, with the final tie taking place at the Wormsley Trust ground at Stokenchurch on Wednesday, August 28.

And Berkshire, having won all four games so far, are well placed to retain the Unicorns Championship's Western Division title as they go into their penultimate three-day fixture against Cornwall at St Austell on Sunday (August 18) holding a healthy 17-point advantage over their nearest challengers, Oxfordshire.

With all their Middlesex-registered players available, Berkshire were able to field a particularly strong side against Wiltshire, yet still did not have things entirely all their own way.

Wiltshire, electing to bat first, opened with a stand of 61 in 11 overs on what looked a good batting wicket, capable of producing a score of at least 250.

However, that all changed when Berkshire skipper James Morris introduced his ultra trustworthy spin attack. They promptly slowed down the run rate quite considerably, while also chipping their way through the Wiltshire order.

By the mid-point of their 50 overs, the visitors had lost five wickets with only 113 runs on the board. Skipper Ed Young worked hard to improve matters, but on 48 he was bowled by off-spinner Euan Woods and, despite a spirited knock of 35 from former Henley bowler Tahir Afridi, Wiltshire's total of 199 never looked totally adequate.

Woods took the bowling honours with 4-40 off 10 overs, while Chris Peploe claimed 3-29, also off his full quota of overs, Tom Scriven 2-23 from 9.1 overs and fellow paceman Andy Rishton 1-31 off eight.

The Berkshire reply ticked along nicely despite losing Jack Davies for 15 (23-1) and Dan Lincoln also for 15, making it 63-2 in the 15th over.

Richard Morris was next to depart for 19 with the total on 109, two runs later teenager Archie Carter was bowled for a nicely-constructed 55, making it 111-4 and James Morris (11) was next to go, 143-5 in the 34th over. Had another wicket gone quickly, Berkshire might have started to look a bit anxious.

However, Scriven put them back in the driving seat with an attractive innings of 52 from 56 balls. He holed out in the 43rd over and this left Henley teammates Woods (20) and Rishton (4) to guide their side across the line, Berkshire finishing on 202-6 from 43.3 overs.

Last Sunday's other semi-final between Cumberland and Staffordshire scheduled for Carlisle was cancelled following torrential rain, forcing a five-a-side bowl-out in the Penrith CC nets which the home county won 3-0.

Skipper James Morris commented: "It's lovely to have another final in the bank and it's a game we are already looking forward to, but it's important we now refocus on the championship and our trip down to Cornwall.

"We are in a lovely position at the top of the table after winning all of four games, and if we keep our winning run going down there it will take the pressure off our final game against Dorset (at Wargrave on September 1)."

Reflecting on the Wiltshire game, the Newbury school teacher commented: "There were some concerns for us as they started the game very well and everyone was looking at the wicket and thinking it was capable of producing between 260 and 300 runs.

"But then our spinners do what they do time and time again. And with the support of Andy Rishton who bowled an excellent spell and Tom Scriven, we chipped away with wickets through the middle overs to stifle their momentum.

"If you asked their captain, he would say they ended up 60 or 70 runs short of where they would like to have been, and that would have led to a much more difficult chase for us.

"So it is to our credit, we were able to limit them to as few as we did in the end. It was a good batting wicket, but it did take a bit of spin."

Berkshire players and officials send their condolences to Finchampstead groundsman Paul Maynard following the death of his close friend Jill at the weekend.