Skipper Steve Leach targeting another exciting run for Shropshire in Unicorns Knockout Trophy

Shropshire skipper Steve Leach is targeting another exciting run in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy ahead of Sunday’s second round tie against Cumberland at Oswestry.

Impressive victories over Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Norfolk helped Shropshire reach the semi-finals of the 50-over competition last season.

Their hopes of reaching the final for the first time since 2013 were dashed with a semi-final defeat against Cheshire at Bridgnorth.

But Leach insists he took much encouragement from Shropshire’s improved one-day form and wants them to hit the same high standards this season.

“Certainly for my tenure, until last year it had been one of the weaker suits,” said Leach, who is county captain for a fourth season. “We’ve had a really good record in three-day cricket, but prior to last year the one-day form wasn’t as good as it should have been.

“But we played quite free, quite open, quite destructive cricket – and if I was playing against us, I would be very worried.

“We’ve got a lot of match winners, people who can take the game away from you with the bat, and we also have destructive bowlers and a lot of experience.

“The likes of Mike Barnard have been there and won the competition. There’s no reason why we won’t be looking to replicate that this season.

“I think you’ll see a very strong Shropshire team and we want big contributions from everyone.”

Having not been involved in Shropshire’s Twenty20 group matches in the early weeks of the campaign – the county still have a chance of making progress in the competition going into their final two fixtures at Buckinghamshire next month – Leach is looking forward to leading the team for the first time this season this weekend.

“I’m always immensely proud when I play for Shropshire,” he added. “It always means a lot to me.

“We have a really tight knit closed unit. We all get on really well and I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope we can put the performance in.”

Leach has played against Cumberland before and, while he acknowledges they will provide tough opposition, the Shifnal opening batsman, who scored a Birmingham League century against Knowle & Dorridge last weekend, stressed: “We only need to look internally and if we play to our capabilities then we’ll hopefully win the match and that’s all we need to worry about.”

The first ball will be bowled at Oswestry at 11am on Sunday, with admission free for spectators.

Pictured: Shropshire skipper Steve Leach, right, with Joe Carrasco, his new Unicorns Championship vice-captain, is looking forward to Sunday’s one-day match against Cumberland at Oswestry.