Jono Whitney was a regular member of the Shropshire side for 10 years until emigrating to Western Australia in 2013.
The all-rounder played 96 matches for Shropshire, 58 of them in the Championship, scoring 2,676 runs at an average of 32.6 and taking 79 wickets at 33 apiece. He also weighed in with 903 runs at 24.4 and 25 wickets at 28.8 for the county in the Knockout Trophy.
He began his career with Bridgnorth, his home town club, while he also played club cricket for Shrewsbury and Shifnal. He also had a spell as a youngster with Worcestershire CCC.
Now playing in Western Australia for Hay Park, Jono continues to closely follow Shropshire’s fortunes, with younger brother Sam following him into the county side.
When and where did you start playing cricket? Bridgnorth Cricket Club’s Sunday morning coaching sessions. There were bronze, silver and gold awards. I just kept going back after I had finished the gold because I couldn’t get enough of cricket. I’m one of six boys in my family so we were into all sports growing up. We played a lot of squash and were also all involved with football teams.
What’s your earliest cricketing memory? John Golightly, who played at Bridgnorth CC, was coach of, I think, Shropshire’s under-10s. I remember pestering him to let me have a go. I played in every junior age group thereafter and was then selected for the senior side.
Biggest influence on your career? From a coaching perspective, what I picked up as a young player at Worcestershire from the likes of Tom Moody, Damian D’Oliveira and Phil Newport will stick with me forever. On a more local level, I always had great respect for Ken Arch, particularly on the basics of batting. Still to this day, I go through a check list in my mind of the things he taught me. The coaches at Bridgnorth were also very helpful in those early days.
Most memorable match you played in? For Shropshire, it has to be the 2010 Minor Counties Knockout final when we beat Lincolnshire at Durham. That whole campaign was fantastic with some serious individual and team performances. Someone always found a way to get us over the line.
I also have to mention the Country Cup final win with Bunbury in 2005 over here in Western Australia at the WACA. We were chasing 380 in a 50-over game and won. Our stand-in skipper made 172 not out off 59 balls at number eight. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it happened.
Highlights of your playing days? Making two hundreds at Bridgnorth for Shropshire was pretty special, especially the first one against Herefordshire. I had only ever really been picked as a bowler up until that point and knew I had more to offer with the bat so that was pretty cool.
The best game I had personally was towards the start of that 2010 one-day season at Oswestry. We were five or six down early on against Northumberland and I played a pretty uncharacteristic knock and pretty much batted through for a hundred, with a couple of really good partnerships with Matt Tilt and Adam Shimmons. We won and I also chipped in with four wickets, so that was a good day!
Best player you played alongside? We were lucky to have some great pros with Shropshire. We had some quality batters, but runs are always made in Minor Counties cricket because the decks are so good, so I’ll have to choose bowlers. To win three-day games on quality wickets, you need real quality with the ball and we have had our fair share.
Andy Gray and Ben Sanderson were the pick of them. You never felt out of a game with either of those guys in your team, especially Andy. You would still feel you had a chance defending 100 on the final day with him in your side. They were also quality people and it didn’t feel like they were pros, just part of the team.
The best Shropshire-bred player has to be Ed Foster, as impressive a human as he is a cricketer. I played with Ed right from the beginning and he was always a pleasure to watch. A really strong leader, he sets very high standards, both for himself and his team.
Best player you played against? It’s hard to go past Shane Warne. The day we played against Hampshire in the C&G Trophy at Whitchurch was really special for Shropshire. It was such a shame that we don’t get those experiences any more. I took it for granted at the time, but to play against, face and even get the better of – for a brief moment! – one of the best that’s played the game was pretty cool.
Favourite ground where you have played? The WACA in Perth without a doubt. You grow up watching the Ashes in Australia on the TV and never dream of playing at one of those venues.
Wormsley is beautiful. We didn’t get the desired result in the 2013 Minor Counties Knockout final when Shropshire lost there to a very good Berkshire side, but that ground is amazing.
I also have to mention Cricket Meadow, Bridgnorth’s ground, as I love playing there.
Team mate which made you laugh the most? I have had a lot of fun with all the guys over the years, but I have to say Mark Robinson and Jonty Mountford. I grew up playing for Shropshire with those boys and we always had a great laugh. I’m having a chuckle to myself now just thinking about it. They are two of the very best men that you’ll meet and you would run through a wall for both of them. I look forward to catching up with them when I’m next home, more than likely on a golf course somewhere.
What did you enjoy most about playing for Shropshire? Without a doubt, it’s the lifelong friends that you make. It really is a brotherhood. I mentioned Jonty and Geezer (Mark Robinson) in my previous answer, but I’ve made what I would consider to be some of my very best friends playing for Shropshire.
I was pretty dedicated. I pretty much stayed unemployed through my twenties so that I could play for Shropshire!! I’m playing a bit of catch up with life now, but I wouldn’t change those years for anything. Up the Cats!!