Coach Jason Weaver highlighted a number of positives as Shropshire secured a draw against Wales in the NCCA Championship.
Shropshire collected 10 points from the Western Division Two match at Abergavenny after batting through the final day.
With Shropshire 151-8 in their second innings – a lead of 99 runs at the time – captain Sam Whitney, at number 10, and Sam Ellis stood firm to put together an unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 99.
Whitney finished unbeaten on 66, from 115 balls, with eight fours – his maiden half century for the county – as he was well supported by Ellis (31 not out).
Their efforts guided Shropshire to 250-8 from 95 overs – a lead of 198 runs – with Whitney and Wales captain Sam Pearce agreeing on the draw at 5.30pm, with no prospect of a win for either side.
Coach Weaver said: “It was a real captain’s knock from Sam Whitney and he was well supported by Sam Ellis.
“They did really well in terms of batting time after going in at a difficult time. They showed good character to be able to bat for so long to secure the draw.
“We were 151-8, so it was a crucial partnership at that stage of the game.”
Shropshire had been bowled out for 300 on the opening day, with Graham Wagg compiling an excellent century, before Wales, helped by a fine century from Cameron Herring, responded with 352-8.
“There were lots of positives to be taken from the three days,” added Weaver.
“We identified in previous games a number of areas where we want to get better, in terms of showing grit, showing character and looking to develop partnerships, and that’s something we’ve done.
“The players and the team should gain confidence from the performance and recognise what has gone well, while at the same time also identify areas we need to get better at.
“One of the areas we discussed is that we had Wales at 138-6. We have to look at that as an opportunity to stamp our authority on the game, so we discussed how can we get better when we’re in those strong positions.
“We had a number of younger players involved again, so that’s another positive going forward.”
Shropshire had started the final day 8-1 in their second innings, trailing by 44 runs.
Ryan Lockley (48) and Simon Gregory (20) put on 56 for the third wicket.
The experienced Wagg shared a stand of 61 for the sixth wicket with Matty Simmonds before being bowled by Kieran Bull for 44.
Impressive young seamer Ben Morris (5-46), playing at his home club ground, then struck twice in as many balls, removing Simmonds and young debutant Harry Cooke, as Shropshire slipped to 151-8.
But then came the key partnership between Whitney, who was captaining Shropshire for the first time in a three-day match, and Ellis to end the home side’s hopes of pushing for victory.
Wagg played a starring role on the opening day as Shropshire, invited to bat, were bowled out for 300 in their first innings.
Lockley (34) and James Shaw (20) put on 58 for the first wicket before falling in successive overs.
Wagg came to the crease with Shropshire 78-3 and shared a partnership worth 52 for the fourth wicket with Gregory (22).
The former Glamorgan all-rounder then put on 76 for the seventh wicket with Ellis (33) as they lifted the score from 159-6 to 235-7.
Wagg was eventually out for an excellent 126 from 162 balls, which included two sixes and 15 fours.
Coach Weaver said: “It was a stand-out knock early in the game. One of our key aims for all of our players is to have someone get a big score and Graham showed his experience and quality by making 126.”
Wales used eight bowlers, with Sam Jardine (3-44) leading the way, as Bull (2-52) and Tomos Jones (2-58) also played their part with the ball.
Wales, in reply, ended the day on 60-1, with skipper Whitney taking a wicket from the day’s final ball when he bowled Thomas Bevan for 38.
Whitney (2-69) struck again early on day two, but Wales were going along well at 129-2 before being reduced to 138-6.
Ellis (3-47) claimed three of the four wickets to fall in quick succession, with his victims including opener Morgan Bevans for 59.
But Herring and Bull impressively led a recovery for the home side by putting on 165, a new seventh-wicket Championship record stand for Wales.
The partnership was finally ended when Wagg (2-37) bowled Herring for 110, which came off 155 balls and featured 14 boundaries.
Bull went on to end unbeaten on 95 as Wales totalled 352-8 to give them an advantage of 52 runs at the halfway stage.
Shropshire’s second innings was halted just two overs in by rain, which meant no further play was possible after tea as day two ended early.
But the county then displayed plenty of determination on the final day to ensure they claimed a draw, picking up 10 points as Wales emerged with 12 points.
Shropshire’s next Championship match against Cornwall starts at Bridgnorth on Sunday, August 15.
Pictured: Shropshire emerged with 10 points from their drawn NCCA Championship match against Wales at Abergavenny.