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Shropshire chase well to complete seven-wicket NCCA Championship victory


Captain Sam Whitney was impressed with his side’s run-chase as Shropshire completed a seven-wicket win against Wales to register their first National Counties Cricket Association Championship victory of the season.

After bowling out Wales for 137 and 148, Shropshire, having been dismissed for 140 in their first innings, were set a victory target of 146 at Oswestry’s Morda Road.

Helped by an unbeaten half-century from Andre Bradford, they made assured progress to 146-3, with Ryan Wheldon hitting the winning boundary before tea on the second day.

After 24 wickets had fallen on the opening day, Whitney was pleased how Shropshire responded with the bat in their second innings to score the runs required inside 33 overs.

Bradford, who also scored an unbeaten half-century in Shropshire’s opening Championship match of the season at Wiltshire last week, ended 56 not out, hitting eight fours, as he shared productive partnerships with Will Wade (28) and then Graham Wagg (29).

Whitney said: “Looking at what had gone on in the previous three innings, we didn’t really want to chase much over 150, so we were very happy to bowl them out for under that.

“We realised from the first few innings that the new ball didn’t actually do as much, so we thought if we could be positive early on and try and get on top that we would be in a good position to win the game.

“The plan was to try and put pressure on their spinners. We thought if we could get on top early that we would have a very good chance and that’s what we did.

“We played very positively, we started well. Will batted well to get us off to a good start and then Graham came in and played a few shots which put the pressure back on them.

“Andre anchored it and just batted the way he has all season. He’s a very good player.”

A strong Wales side, having opened their Championship season with victory against Devon, elected to bat first on Sunday. From 130-5, they were bowled out for 137.

Seamer Sam Ellis led the way for Shropshire by taking 5-20, his best Championship figures, and he was well supported by promising Shrewsbury seamer Luke Thornton, who claimed 3-31.

Opener Tom Bevan top scored for the visitors with 33, with Morgan Bevans (27) and Cameron Herring (25) also weighing in.

Shropshire moved three runs in front at the halfway stage, as Ellis completed a good day’s work by hitting 36, with Sam Dorsey (20) and Thornton (18) the next highest scorers.

Brad Wadlan (4-38), Osama Subhan (3-25) and Bevan (2-3) were among the wickets for Wales.

The visitors found themselves batting again towards the end of a sweltering opening day and a flurry of late wickets, two in one over for Thornton, including Harry Friend for 21, saw them close on 54-4.

Thornton, who enjoyed an impressive Championship debut, struck again with the very first ball on day two, Wheldon taking a catch to remove wicketkeeper Alex Horton.

Wales captain Herring hit 50, with two sixes and seven fours, and Bevans added 28 as Wales were dismissed for 148.

Leg spinner Whitney took 4-21 while Thornton made it six wickets in the match by claiming 3-16 and Ben Roberts took 3-48 to set up Shropshire’s ultimately successful chase.

Whitney was pleased with his side’s fielding throughout the match, reflecting on some excellent catches from Bradford, Wade and Roberts, while he also highlighted the contributions of both Ellis and Thornton.

“I’m really happy for Sam,” said Whitney. “He’s played a lot of cricket and he really works hard at his game. He’s reaping the rewards now.

“He bowled well at Wiltshire but didn’t maybe get that luck, but on a pitch that suited him and offered a little bit to him it definitely paid off these last few days.

“He bowled beautifully on the first day. He really set it up for us with Ben Roberts.

“Luke Thornton came in and took it in his stride to take six wickets on his Championship debut.

“He bowled with good pace and bowled a couple of game-changing overs.”

Shropshire’s next NCCA Championship match against Cornwall at St Austell starts on July 24.

“The confidence is high,” added Whitney. “The team spirit is high and there’s a buzz around the group.”

Pictured: Oswestry hosted Shropshire’s opening home match of the season in the NCCA Championship.