Shropshire kept alive their qualification hopes in the Unicorns Twenty20 competition by delivering two impressive victories against Herefordshire.
Aware they needed two wins to stay on course for Finals Day later in the season, Shropshire responded in style on a productive day at Wrekin College.
Shropshire won the day’s opening match by 84 runs and then also came out on top in a closer second game by 13 runs.
It means there is all to play for when Shropshire play their two final group matches against Buckinghamshire at Gerrards Cross on June 16.
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, said: “We’re all delighted and the team played very well. We set our stall at the start of the day to stay in the competition.
“We’re in a situation where we can still progress, so we can go to Gerrards Cross and I would imagine it will be two games that we have to win.
“But we performed really well today and ultimately that was the goal. The lads have done really well.”
With captain Ross Aucott ruled out through injury, Alexei Kervezee skippered a Shropshire side which included three Unicorns T20 debutants in Bridgnorth batsman Ben Lees, Quatt all-rounder Ryan Wheldon and Oswestry seamer Ben Roberts.
Opener Alex Phillips top scored with 47 while Kervezee (40), Joe Carrasco (31) and Ryan Lockley (27) also weighed in as Shropshire, having elected to bat first, rattled up 167-6 in the day’s first match.
There was some joy with the ball for visiting duo Alex Russell (2-29) and David Ball (2-37).
Herefordshire, in reply, were dismissed for 83 inside 17 overs. Shifnal’s Jack Edwards led the way by claiming 4-17 and he was well backed up by promising debutant Wheldon (2-4) and Carrasco (2-6).
Shropshire once again opted to bat first in the second game and were going well at 72-1 before slipping to 82-5.
Simon Gregory and Lockley then shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 75 to lift the total up to a competitive 157-5.
Bridgnorth’s Gregory struck six fours and a six in his unbeaten 48 from 25 balls and he was well supported by Lockley (26no). Edwards (27), Phillips (23) and Kervezee (21) also contributed.
Former Derbyshire man Peter Burgoyne (42) and Ball (28) attempted to inspire a successful chase, but Herefordshire regularly lost wickets and ended short of their target on 144-9.
Roberts took 2-24 and Sam Whitney also played his part by claiming 2-26.
Jones added: “As Alexei said at the end of the game, it has been a good all round team performance. There’s been some 30s, some 40s and some wickets. Ultimately, we also fielded really well as a unit and I’m absolutely convinced a good fielding side can win games from anywhere and keep the pressure on, which is what we did.”
Shropshire return to action next Sunday when they face Cumberland at Oswestry in the second round of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.
Pictured: The scene at Wrekin College where Shropshire enjoyed two fine wins over Herefordshire.