Shropshire’s hopes of qualifying for the Unicorns Twenty20 finals day ended as they were beaten in both of their final group matches at table-toppers Buckinghamshire.
Shropshire travelled to Gerrards Cross needing to win both games to pull level on points with Buckinghamshire – but the hosts delivered two strong performances to book their place at Wormsley in August.
Buckinghamshire won the day’s opener by seven wickets before also coming out on top in game two when they were victorious by 71 runs.
Invited to bat first in the day’s opening match, Shropshire totalled 110-7 from their 20 overs. Openers Jack Edwards and Alex Phillips, who put on 44, both made 24 before Joe Carrasco chipped in with 23 and Simon Gregory added 19.
Saif Zaib inflicted much of the damage by taking 4-25.
Opener Conrad Louth led a successful chase for the hosts, hitting seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 65 from 48 balls, as Buckinghamshire responded with 111-3 inside 15 overs, a result which ensured qualification for finals day as group winners.
Buckinghamshire followed it up with another impressive display in the second game after opting to bat. Despite Jack Twigger taking an early wicket, Shelvin Gumbs and Masoor Khan shared a second-wicket stand of 85, broken when Khan was caught by Edwards off Quatt’s Ryan Wheldon for 28.
Gumbs eventually went for 82, from 47 balls, caught behind by Phillips off Edwards, a knock which included six sixes and five boundaries, as Buckinghamshire put 171-6 on the board.
Shropshire, in reply, were soon in trouble at 34-4. Alexei Kervezee top scored with 29 while there were contributions down the order from Twigger (17no) and Ryan Lockley (17) as the visitors closed on 100-7, with Khan claiming 3-19 and Zaib 2-20 as Buckinghamshire made it seven wins from eight group matches.
Shropshire finished fourth in Group 2 with three wins and five defeats in the competition this season.
Chairman of selectors Bryan Jones said: “We’re probably disappointed with that in general with the side we have. We got our noses in front in a few of the games and didn’t capitalise on it, even at Oxfordshire when we lost twice.
“We were in positions to bat sides out of the game and get a good total. It’s small margins in Twenty20 and it changes very quickly, so that’s cost us basically.
“On the positive side, we’ve got a young team playing in a really good national competition, so for them to experience that has got to be good news.
“We’re in a position where we can bring in some young players, which is what we’ve done. It’s great experience and a learning curve for them to play county Twenty20 cricket.”
He added: “Buckinghamshire are obviously a very good side and deserved to win the group. They have got a lot of matchwinners and are a very confident side.
“We’re obviously going to learn the lessons from this season going into next year’s competition.”
Shropshire begin their Unicorns Championship season against Dorset at Shrewsbury’s London Road ground next Sunday.
Pictured: Alexei Kervezee top scored with 29 as Shropshire were beaten by 71 runs in the second match at Gerrards Cross.