Shropshire’s hopes of pushing for another win to sign off their impressive campaign were dashed with rain the only winner on the final day of the county’s season.
No play was possible at Bridgnorth with the match abandoned as a draw just after lunch with both Shropshire and Devon receiving 12 points.
Shropshire ended with a record of four wins, one draw and one defeat from their six Unicorns Championship matches this year, the only setback coming at Berkshire, who retained their Western Division title with a 100 per cent record.
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, stressed the county could be pleased with their efforts during a season in which they also reached the semi-finals of the one-day Unicorns Trophy competition.
He said: “I’m sure we would have taken that at the start of the season, but ultimately we were trying to win one of the competitions.
“We’ve got close and it’s another stepping stone. We’ve got a really good group of players that enjoy playing together.
“Part of my responsibility is to keep pushing and try and push the players, to see if there’s any other players around to join our squad, and try and take Shropshire cricket forward.”
He added: “If the standard is that high, we have to win six out of six, so be it, that’s what we have to do. Berkshire have shown that it can be done.
“I would like to build on this season. Steve Leach has led the team really well and I think he’s had his best season as a captain.”
The scheduled start of play on the final day had been brought forward to 10am, but rain prevented any action to ensure Devon remained on their overnight score of 56-1 in their second innings.
Jones said: “I think the wicket was pretty good, so we were probably going to struggle to bowl them out, but I do think they probably would have left us a chase and I think we were in positive mode to try and go after it as best we could to try and get full points.
“It’s been very frustrating. Another season where the weather’s played a part. Part of the challenge of the summer is trying to get round the weather and having a bit of luck with it. It’s proven to have held us up on the last day of the season when we were trying to push hard.
“All credit to Berkshire as they’ve played really well to win six out of six, but I think we can be pleased with our season and how Steve has led the troops and we can start planning for next year.”
Devon had elected to bat first on winning the toss on Sunday’s opening day and, led by a third century in as many innings for the county from Tom Lammondy, they posted 358.
Lammondy, the dual-registered Somerset and England under-19 international batsman, marked his return from injury by hitting 130 as he shared in a fourth-wicket partnership of 159 with skipper Josh Bess, who made 97.
Lammondy was fifth man out with the score on 301 and his departure prompted a flurry of wickets, with Alex Wyatt ending with 4-65 and debutant Adam Quiney taking 3-94.
Shropshire closed the day on 86-2, a deficit of 272 runs, and they had to be patient to make further inroads into Devon’s advantage on the second day with no play possible before lunch owing to rain.
Keen to make up for lost time, Shropshire quickly kept the scoreboard ticking over to rattle up 404 as they established a first innings advantage of 46 runs.
Alexei Kervezee played the lead role with an excellent 140 from 120 balls, his third Championship century of the season, which included a six and 16 fours, while skipper Leach (61) and Warrick Fynn (54) also weighed in.
Pictured: Bryan Jones, right, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, speaks to the players ahead of the start of the final match of the season against Devon at Bridgnorth.