Encouraging signs for Shropshire before rain eventually curtails friendly against a Worcestershire XI

Director of Cricket John Abrahams was encouraged by Shropshire’s performance during Sunday’s friendly against a Worcestershire XI featuring several players with first-team experience.

The Pears ultimately emerged winners by nine runs under the DLS method after rain halted Shropshire’s run chase with 10 overs remaining.

Skipper Sam Whitney had earlier taken five Worcestershire wickets before opening batsman Ryan Lockley compiled an unbeaten half century against a visiting attack led by England T20 international Pat Brown.

Abrahams said: “I think initially when we agreed the fixture it was obviously one that everyone, especially the players, was looking forward to.

“Despite the inclement weather, we were fortunate to have a good game of cricket, albeit curtailed.

“What was very pleasing from our point of view was that during the practice games we had identified areas we had to look to address for improvement and I think there were genuine signs of that happening.

“Another pleasing aspect was the attitude and commitment of all the players when we were fielding – I thought that stood out.”

Rain meant a delayed start at Bridgnorth, with the club’s ground staff working hard to ensure play was able to begin at 1.15pm, as the match was reduced to 40 overs per side.

Leg spinner Whitney, captaining Shropshire at his home club ground, claimed 5-47 as Worcestershire totalled 206-9.

Sentinel’s David Laird also played his part by taking 2-29, removing Ollie Westbury, who has previously played for Shropshire, and Alex Milton, the first two wickets to fall.

Ross Whiteley, a man with plenty of first-team experience for Worcestershire, top scored for the visitors, hitting 45 from 36 balls, while Ben Twohig (41), Westbury (31) and Rehaan Edavalath (22) also chipped in.

Shropshire, in reply, were handily placed at 134-5 with 10 overs remaining when the rain, which had been threatening to arrive for some time, eventually intervened.

Lockley, back in familiar surroundings as a former Bridgnorth player, was still unbeaten on 60, having faced 88 balls and hit six fours.

Opening partner Will Parton struck 21, his Shrewsbury team mate Dan Humes hammered two towering sixes in a quickfire 18, while Ross Aucott added 17 during a fifth-wicket stand of 53 with Lockley.

Worfield’s Ben Parker, who lined up for Shropshire’s Academy side last season and also featured for the county in a first-team friendly against the RAF, took 2-10 from five lively overs for Worcestershire.

Abrahams added: “We all know enough about one-day cricket to have an idea that potentially anything could have been feasible, anything could have been possible over those last 10 overs.

“We’re fortunate that we have a long batting line-up, so there were players still capable of scoring runs lower down the order.”

On the contributions of Whitney and Lockley, he said: “Sam certainly used his knowledge of a pitch that he knows very well, and what was pleasing about Ryan’s efforts was his positive intent. He didn’t seem to be overawed by both the situation or the opposition.”

Abrahams also thanked Bridgnorth for their efforts in impressively hosting the fixture: “Bridgnorth were absolutely brilliant, especially the ground staff who made the game possible,” he added. “A lot of hard work had obviously gone in prior to the day, but also on the day as well, with the weather conditions they had to encounter.

“I thought they did a magnificent job and we thank them for their efforts.”

Report by Stuart Dunn

Pictured: Ross Aucott bowling for Shropshire during Sunday’s friendly against a Worcestershire XI at Bridgnorth. Picture by James Baylis