Director of Cricket John Abrahams has identified key areas for the Shropshire squad to work on ahead of their next three friendlies in the build up to their National Counties Cricket Association campaign getting under way.
Shropshire were beaten by seven wickets in their opening 50-over friendly of the season by Staffordshire at Himley on Sunday.
The county’s next friendly is against a Lancashire XI at Whitchurch on Sunday, May 2, with warm up matches also arranged next month at home to a Worcestershire XI and Herefordshire.
Abrahams plans to rotate the Shropshire squad, depending on availability, as he looks for a continued improvement in performance level leading up to the county’s first NCCA Trophy group match against Northumberland at Oswestry on May 30.
Shropshire, who were without Shrewsbury and Shifnal players for the Staffordshire game owing to club commitments, elected to bat first on winning the toss and accumulated 211-8 from their 50 overs.
Captain Graham Wagg, batting at No 6, top scored with 50 from 61 balls, hitting a six and four boundaries.
David Laird (36) and Wellington’s Dan Lloyd (29no) kept the scoreboard ticking over by putting on 54 for the eighth wicket.
Opener Ryan Lockley, a day after hitting an unbeaten 156 for Oswestry in the Birmingham League, earlier made 28, with Zen Malik and Alex Coates both claiming 3-35 for the hosts.
Staffordshire, in reply, were quickly reduced to 28-2 by Oswestry all-rounder Laird (2-38).
But home skipper Alex Mellor, a former Warwickshire player, carried his bat to end unbeaten on 82 from 107 balls, and Michael Hill compiled a rapid, undefeated 71, facing 53 balls and hitting five sixes and six fours, as Staffordshire reached their target in the 35th over.
“We were obviously disappointed with the result,” said Abrahams. “We played against a good Staffordshire team, quite an experienced team. Having said that, as a group we are still making similar mistakes to what we did last season.
“An example would be batsmen getting starts and then not going on to make more substantial scores.
“We also need to show a little bit more patience and discipline with our bowling in that we are releasing the pressure with deliveries that batsmen can take advantage of.
“As always, the attitude, the approach and the commitment by the players was absolutely excellent and can never be faulted, so that was pleasing.
“But we do recognise and we do know that there are certain areas that we need to work on, both as individuals and as a group.”
Abrahams was encouraged to see new signing Wagg score a half century in his first appearance for Shropshire, but the former Glamorgan all-rounder did not bowl as a precautionary measure owing to a calf strain.
He added: “Graham showed us really how to build an innings even in a one-day context. He was disappointed, we were all disappointed, when he actually got out because it was at a stage where had he stayed in for a little bit longer we could have posted a more challenging total for the opposition.”
Abrahams was also pleased with the contribution of Laird: “We’ve set certain criteria for players to try and meet, one of which is dominating in club cricket,” he said. “David has shown that over the last couple of weeks, both with bat and ball, so that was a massive plus for us, to see him taking his club form into the county match.”
Pictured: The scene at Himley as Shropshire faced Staffordshire in a 50-over friendly.