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Outstanding performance from George Hargrave helps Shropshire progress to Super 12s stage of NCCA T20 Cup


An outstanding performance with the bat from George Hargrave helped Shropshire impressively qualify for the newly-created Super 12s stage of the NCCA Twenty20 Cup.

With Hargrave playing the lead role, Shropshire chased well in both games to secure two victories over Wales at St Asaph on Bank Holiday Monday.

Having hit an unbeaten 65 in the day’s opening match, Shrewsbury opener Hargrave then underlined his ability once more with a glorious 129 not out from just 44 balls in game two.

It meant he became the first Shropshire player to register a century in a NCCA T20 Cup match – the previous highest score for the county in the competition was Andre Bradford’s unbeaten 87 against Staffordshire in 2022.

Shropshire finished runners-up to Oxfordshire in group four and can now look forward to featuring in the Super 12s on Sunday, May 19.

“What George did was absolutely incredible,” said Shropshire captain Charlie Home. “The ball striking and some of the shots he played, no one could bowl at him. They weren’t just going for six – they were going for 12!

“He was fantastic and it’s not the first time he’s done it either. He got 100 and 200 in the same game for us last year, while he also made a triple hundred a couple of years ago for Oxford University.

“From my point of view, he’s as good as they get and he deserves his opportunity to be playing at a higher level, to be playing professional cricket.”

Hargrave has played for Northamptonshire’s second team in the early weeks of this season – he hit two half centuries against Leicestershire’s 2nd XI last week – after initially being given a chance to impress by the first-class county towards the end of last season.

Home added: “He’s playing regularly for Northants and has done well for them. He’s doing everything he can. I’ve seen George play for years and he’s as good as anyone. When he was younger, probably the more longer format suited him, but he has developed his game and is now an all formats player. The way he was striking the ball against Wales, getting to 100 off 34 balls was special.

“Wales had professional bowlers in their bowling attack who have played first-class cricket, so to hit some of the shots he did off good balls was second to none.

“Hopefully he’ll go on to bigger and better things, but it’s great to have him involved with us. I think he’s enjoying it and we’re certainly benefiting from having him involved.”

Replying to the home side’s competitive total of 192-5, which was built around 77 from Henry Hurle and Jude Wright’s 53, Hargrave quickly kept the scoreboard ticking over for Shropshire.

He took just 18 balls to pass 50, reached three figures from only 34 deliveries, and eventually ended unbeaten on 129 from 44 balls, hitting 13 sixes and seven fours in the process, as Shropshire advanced to 196-2 from 14.1 overs to complete an eight-wicket win.

Played a supporting role

Jacques Banton played a supporting role with 21 before having to retire through injury, with Bradford and Dan Humes, handed his debut after a fine opening day Birmingham League century for Shrewsbury, also contributing double figure scores.

Shropshire earlier emerged comfortable six-wicket winners in the day’s opening match at St Asaph.

Joe Stanley (3-18) and Lewis Evans (2-25) enjoyed success with the ball as Wales, having elected to bat, were restricted to 133-6, with openers Brad Wadlan (45) and Steffan Roberts (40) the top scorers.

Hargrave hit an unbeaten 65 from 39 balls, which included three sixes and six fours, as the visitors made assured progress to 135-4 from 14.2 overs.

Hargrave shared a second-wicket partnership of 94 with Tom Fell, who cracked 45 from 20 deliveries, while Todd Wilcox (2-16) was the pick of the home attack.

Shropshire also played twice 24 hours earlier when honours ended even with a win apiece for them and Herefordshire at Oswestry’s Morda Road ground.

Asked to bat in the day’s first game, Fell led the way with 72 from 47 balls, hitting six sixes and three fours, as Shropshire totalled 165-5.

Fell put on 75 for the third wicket with his former Worcestershire team mate Banton (47), and 59 for the second wicket with Hargrave (33), as Roshan Venkataraman (3-27) and Adam Hines (2-35) shared the wickets.

Herefordshire, in reply, regularly lost wickets and ended short of their target on 122-9, with Daniyal Khan (27) the top scorer, as Shropshire won by 43 runs.

All-rounder Banton, a left-arm spinner, completed an impressive debut for Shropshire by taking 4-23, with Sam Ellis also playing his part with 2-13.

Shropshire were again invited to bat in game two and accumulated 154-4.

Hargrave was in good touch with 44 from 23 balls, with Ollie Westbury (35) and Jack Home (21) also weighing in, as Hines claimed 2-35 for the visitors.

Herefordshire timed their chase well, reaching 155-6 with an over to spare, thanks to Nick Hammond (43no) and Matt Pardoe (40), with Ellis (2-16) and Jack Home (2-30) among the wickets for Shropshire.

Reflecting on his side’s efforts in winning three of their four games during a busy period to qualify, skipper Home added: “I think this time last year we were probably thinking that T20 was our weaker suit, but we are now gelling more as a side. Getting Jacques Banton involved has been great and there’s still Ollie Currill to come into the mix for the next round, so we’re shaping up to be a well rounded side that play well together.

“We’ve kept the energy up in all four games and fielded very well, so it’s been a good two days to start the season off.

“Everybody who plays is enjoying it and that’s what we’re setting out to do with the atmosphere.

“Tom Fell played two very good innings against Herefordshire and Wales, while Jacques Banton is a fantastic acquisition. He fields, bowls and bats well. He’s got that experience of a higher level and has fitted in well.”

Pictured: Shropshire line up before the NCCA Twenty20 Cup matches against Wales at St Asaph, back from left: Kevin O’Connell (scorer), Ed Ashlin (coach), Peter Clark, Ben Lees, Lewis Evans, Ben Roberts, Sam Ellis, Dan Humes, Jacques Banton, Richard Lees (operations director); front: Joe Stanley, Tom Fell, Charlie Home (captain), Andre Bradford, George Hargrave.