Shropshire to start NCCA Championship season at Wiltshire this weekend

Sam Whitney wants Shropshire to take confidence from how they performed in the National Counties Cricket Association Championship last season ahead of this weekend’s three-day opener against Wiltshire.

After losing their first Championship match last season, Shropshire responded impressively to win two and draw one of their next three games to finish second in Western Division Two.

Whitney, Shropshire’s Championship captain, is now looking for a positive reaction from his side following some disappointing results for the county in the NCCA One Day Trophy in recent weeks.

Shropshire’s Championship campaign starts with a three-day match against Wiltshire at Corsham CC on Sunday (11am).

It will be followed by games against Wales, Cornwall and Devon.

“We need to forget about what’s gone on in white-ball cricket,” said Whitney.

“We need to look to the positives that we’re unbeaten in the last three games we’ve played in the longer format and take confidence from that.

“We’ve got very, very good players. Look at what happened last year with Graham Wagg. He was the best player in the competition, so hopefully he can emulate that form.

“We’ve got players who are coming in, guys we’re going to be handing Championship debuts to, so we’re going to be able to have a look at them at this level.

“I want everyone to just give everything and enjoy their cricket. I want to see players come in and take five-fors and score their maiden county fifties, maybe score their maiden hundreds, and show what they can do.”

Ludlow opening batter Luke Miles, enjoying an impressive season for his club in the Shropshire County Cricket League, will make his Shropshire debut against Wiltshire.

Bridgnorth captain David Exall, the experienced former Herefordshire all-rounder, has also been called up to play for Shropshire for the first time.

Whitney said: “Luke is having a very good season with the bat and has also contributed with the ball. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.

“From speaking to him, he’s very excited to play and that’s what I want, guys to be excited to be playing for Shropshire.

“I’m excited to see what he can do and there’s zero pressure on him. I just want him to go out and enjoy his cricket. I’m sure that’s what he’s been doing for Ludlow as they are top of the league, so there’s a lot of confidence there.

“David has played lots of three-day games for Herefordshire and he’s got a lot of experience at this level.

“He’s really excited to play and it’s good to have him in the team.”

There will also be first Championship appearances for Shropshire for opening batter Andre Bradford, who has played every match for the county so far this season in the NCCA Trophy and NCCA T20 competition, and Andy Harrison, the Wem seamer who made his county debut in last weekend’s NCCA Trophy match at Norfolk.

Shropshire: Andre Bradford (Swarkestone), Luke Miles (Ludlow), Matty Simmonds (Bridgnorth), Graham Wagg (Wem), David Exall (Bridgnorth), David Laird (Bridgnorth), Ben Lees (Bridgnorth), Sam Whitney (Bridgnorth, captain), Sam Ellis (Formby), Andy Harrison (Wem), Ben Roberts (Brymbo).