Ryan Lockley played a starring role with the bat as Shropshire’s latest 50-over friendly was eventually curtailed by the rain.
Lockley struck an unbeaten 81 against a Worcestershire County Cricket Club XI at Bridgnorth, a match which saw Shropshire emerge winners by 20 runs under the DLS method.
Lockley’s efforts lifted the Shropshire total to 233-9, with Worcestershire, whose side featured several players with first-team experience, 88-4 from 21 overs in reply – 20 runs behind the par score of 108 at the time – when the weather meant no further play was possible.
Director of Cricket John Abrahams praised the performance of Oswestry’s Lockley and was encouraged by Shropshire’s overall performance against strong opposition a week after beating a Lancashire CCC XI in a friendly at Whitchurch.
Abrahams said: “It was a challenging pitch for the batsmen to play on. It was a very well judged and at times an exciting knock from Ryan Lockley that got us into a good position and gave us a reasonable total to defend.
“The role that we identified for Ryan in this match was a specialist wicketkeeper where he would keep wicket for the whole of the fielding innings and bat in a position where a specialist wicketkeeper-batsman would bat.
“He used his ability and skills as a batsman to stem the flow of wickets initially and then to build an innings and accelerate towards the end.
“It was against a good Worcestershire attack and some players that have played some first-class cricket, so all credit to Ryan.”
Shropshire, invited to bat first by Worcestershire captain Ross Whiteley, were 76-5 when Lockley, who opened against Lancashire the previous week, came in at seven to hit a six and six fours in compiling 81 not out from 96 balls.
Captain Graham Wagg (25), Charlie Home (19) and Xavier Clarke (18) were the next highest contributors.
Ed Bragg claimed 3-41 for Worcestershire, with Josh Baker taking 2-35, Adam Finch 2-36 and Mitchell Stanley 2-45.
Opener Josh Dell struck 35 for Worcestershire and skipper Whiteley was unbeaten on 20 when Worcestershire’s response was stopped by the rain at 88-4.
Oswestry’s David Laird bowled well to claim 3-24, with the other wicket to fall taken by Sam Ellis.
“The bowlers are beginning to understand what’s required in white-ball cricket,” said Abrahams. “They’re being led by Graham Wagg as a role model and example that you don’t have to produce wicket-taking balls all the time.
“The discipline and the patience that’s required to make it as difficult as possible for the opposition to score serves two purposes.
“It obviously keeps the run rate down, but it also puts pressure on the opposition batsmen and you will then take wickets, which is exactly what happened.
“Our fielding was also good with some really good catches. When the bowlers were under a little bit of pressure, they were supported by the fielders, which is again something that we’re working towards.”
Abrahams added: “We thank Bridgnorth Cricket Club for kindly hosting us and also thanks to Worcestershire for playing us once again following the two matches we had against them last year.”
Sunday’s scheduled friendly against Staffordshire at Whitchurch has been cancelled, but Shropshire have one final warm up game, against Herefordshire at Wellington on Sunday, May 23, ahead of the county’s opening group match in the NCCA Trophy against Northumberland at Oswestry the following week.
Pictured: Ryan Lockley led the way with the bat for Shropshire against a Worcestershire CCC XI by hitting an unbeaten 81. Picture: James Baylis.