Skipper Steve Leach hits unbeaten century as Shropshire beaten by nine runs at Herefordshire

Skipper Steve Leach hit an unbeaten century as Shropshire’s Unicorns Knockout Trophy campaign ended with a nine run defeat against Herefordshire at Brockhampton.

The opening batsman finished on 122 not out after batting throughout Shropshire’s reply as the county ultimately pulled up just short of their target, closing on 256-8 in reply to Herefordshire’s challenging total of 265-7.

Shropshire will now turn their focus to the start of their three-day Unicorns Championship season, beginning with an away match against Wales at Pontarddulais on June 4.

Despite watching his side slide to a third defeat in four one-day group matches, Shropshire’s director of cricket Karl Krikken insisted there were some positives to emerge, notably the form of Leach after the Shifnal batsman registered the county’s first century of the season.

Leach, pictured, faced 145 balls, hitting three sixes and seven boundaries.

Krikken said: “Leachy played a monumental innings, one that we’ve been looking forward to all season. He played really well, but unfortunately we didn’t have people stay with him.

“We had flourishes, but when you’re 50-3 chasing nearly 270 you need a strong base and we didn’t get it which is a case in all the games that we’ve played this year.

“You’ve got to give yourselves chance at the crease and we didn’t do that. We were always fighting to catch up really. We always had a chance when Leachy was there all the way through, but we were always a bit behind.”

Herefordshire, invited to bat first, were well served by a host of contributions down the order, led by 72 from 65 balls from former Worcestershire batsman Neil Pinner, who was eventually run out by Charlie Home.

Joe Crichard struck 54 while Ian Bullock (47no), Liam Gwynne (34) and Pete Burgoyne, with a rapid 22, also weighed in for the home side.

David Wainwright claimed 2-47 from his ten overs while there was a wicket apiece for Home, Jack Edwards, Alex Wyatt and debutant Gurjit Sandhu.

Shropshire, in reply, lost Omar Ali in the first over, bowled by Dan Conway. Will Parton, for 20, and Home then followed him back to the pavilion in quick succession to leave the visitors on 42-3 in the eighth over.

Jack McIver chipped in with 24 and Ross Aucott quickly came and went to reduce Shropshire to 93-5.

Leach was then joined in the middle by Wainwright and they put on 78 for the sixth wicket before Wainwright was trapped lbw by Pinner for 29.

Leach then led the charge and it eventually came down to Shropshire needing 12 to win off the last over bowled by Jamie McIlroy, but it proved too big an ask as they ended nine runs short.

“He bowled a great over, to be fair to the lad,” added Krikken. “He got it in the block hole.”