Shropshire’s cricketers wrap up their Unicorns Championship season this weekend against Devon with Steve Leach, their top run scorer this year, hoping to sign off in style at Shrewsbury, his home club ground.
The ambitious opening batsman has enjoyed an excellent season for the county, hitting 507 Championship runs at an impressive average of 56.30.
Now he wants to help Shropshire claim a second victory of the summer in the three-day clash against Devon, the Western Division’s bottom side, which starts at Shrewsbury’s London Road ground on Sunday morning.
Shropshire’s title hopes ended with a disappointing two run defeat in their last match against Wales at Bridgnorth last week. It leaves them fifth in the table with 66 points from five games.
Leach, 21, the younger brother of Worcestershire allrounder Joe, admitted it had been a frustrating season with Shropshire, unbeaten in their first four matches, unable to make the most of working themselves into several strong positions after hinting at their potential.
“It has been frustrating and that was certainly the case against Wales,” he said. “After dominating the first day we were under par for the next two and ended up losing a game we should really have won comfortably.
“I feel we should have done better with the group of players we have. We are fortunate to receive good support at the grounds where we play and I’m always proud to play for Shropshire. It’s what everyone who plays club cricket in Shropshire should really strive for.
“You always want to do well and it would be nice to get a win under our belts against Devon and finish the season strongly.”
Leach added he has been pleased with his own contribution at the top of the order in scoring more than 500 Championship runs.
It’s been a productive season all round for the opener as he hit his maiden first class century in April for Oxford MCCU against a Surrey side including Kevin Pietersen while he also impressed against a Middlesex attack spearheaded by England star Steve Finn.
Leach may also have more reason to celebrate over the next few weeks as a key figure in the Shrewsbury side leading the Birmingham League Premier Division with six games remaining.
“Individually, I’ve had a good year,” he said. “I’m quite happy with how it’s gone and I would have taken an average of 56 for Shropshire in the Championship at the start of the season.
“The only think I’ve lacked so far is making a big hundred for Shropshire this year, but there’s still one more game.”
Leach previously had a spell at Worcestershire and makes no secret of the fact that he would love to return to the professional game at some stage.
He added: “I’m just trying to do as well as I can to try and get an opportunity at a higher level. I love playing for Shropshire, I really do, and if I could contribute to a few more wins that would be great.
“I’m looking to try and climb the ladder and I take encouragement from how well some of the guys I’ve played against in university cricket have done since counties have taken a punt on them.”
The first ball for the Devon game will be bowled at Shrewsbury on Sunday at 11am. Admission is free on all three days.
Pictured: Steve Leach – impressively averaging 56.3 in the Unicorns Championship for Shropshire this season.