Shropshire ease home
Shropshire skipper Steve Leach was impressed with his side’s efforts as they completed back-to-back victories in the Unicorns Championship by beating Herefordshire by 128 runs.
The county followed up the convincing Western Division win they enjoyed over Cheshire at Shifnal earlier this month to come out on top at Eastnor.
Herefordshire started the final day on 112-6, a deficit of 395 Shropshire, helped by centuries in the first innings from Alexei Kervezee and Ross Aucott, dominated the opening two days.
Barney Morgan, who hit an unbeaten 147, ensured they had to bide their time, but Shropshire finally dismissed their hosts for 378 with Alex Wyatt finishing with 4-61.
Leach said: “We were trying to get those four wickets and they came out quite carefree. The lad who’s got a hundred for them played nicely. “But It’s a really good win against a decent team. We’ve been ruthless. I wanted us to get on top and stay on top for the whole match and that’s exactly what’s happened.
“Credit to all the players as they’ve done exactly what I wanted them to do. We’ve built massive partnerships, we’ve had big personal contributions and generally we’ve bowled well in partnerships and we’ve been patient. we’ve come away having won the game very comfortably and it was thoroughly deserved.”
Shropshire had to be patient before a breakthrough arrived on the third morning when leg spinner Sam Whitney had Peter Burgoyne, the former Derbyshire player, caught by Leach for 40 to bring an end to a seventh-wicket partnership worth 108 with Morgan.
Alex Wilkinson was next man out, bowled by Gurjit Sandhu (3-62) for 16, as Herefordshire were reduced to 246-8.
A ninth-wicket stand of 65 between the in-form Morgan and Jamie McIlroy followed either side of lunch before Wellington seamer Jack Twigger grabbed a timely first wicket of the innings by bowling McIlroy for 26.
Victory was wrapped up shortly before 3pm when last man Dan Conway, having raced to 49, was caught behind by Simon Gregory off Alex Wyatt (4-61), to leave Morgan stranded on 147 not out, which came off 187 balls and included 23 boundaries.
Shropshire had taken control of the match on the opening day thanks to Kervezee and Aucott both registering their first centuries for the county.
The pair joined forces to impressively put on 269 for the fifth wicket after leading a revival from 43-4 to help Shropshire total 396-9.
Their excellent partnership was only 20 runs short of the Shropshire record for the fifth wicket, 289, set by Mark Davies and Andy Johnson against Cheshire at New Brighton in 1994.
Kervezee, the former Worcestershire man, struck 158, as he faced 164 balls and hit 22 fours. Shifnal all-rounder Aucott hit 126 from 213 deliveries, a fine knock which included 16 boundaries.
Herefordshire, for whom Wilkinson claimed 5-53, ended day one on 63-4 and also found runs hard to come by the following day as they were removed for 170 inside 40 overs, with the wickets shared between Wyatt (3-40), Sandhu (3-72), Twigger (2-17) and Whitney (2-22).
Shropshire then set about scoring quick runs to stretch their first innings advantage of 226. Opening batsman Omar Ali led the way with 85 from 92 balls, with Kervezee (54) and Ryan Lockley (42) also keeping the scoreboard ticking over before Shropshire declared on 280-8 in the 55th over.
That left Herefordshire an improbable victory target of 507 and by the close they were in trouble at 112-6, despite Tom Cummins, having earlier taken 5-70, following it up by making 55.
Leach acknowledged the contribution of Shropshire’s two century makers Kervezee and Aucott in providing a platform for victory.
“Alexei’s a high skilled player and he’s a great addition to us,” said Leach. “He’s very much a modern day cricketer. He’s a brilliant batsman, scores all round the wicket, he bowls very handy offspin and he’s an an excellent fielder.
“I know all of our guys hold in really high regard and that innings he played was destructive. It’s nothing that isn’t unexpected of him because we know he’s more than capable of that.
“Ross played a superb innings. I’ve seen him be extremely destructive and he hits 360 degrees around the ground. He was very patient at the start and then he chose his moment to attack. Watching Ross and Alexei on Sunday was absolutely brilliant and it set us up for the match, for all three days.”
Shropshire’s next Championship match against Berkshire, who have also won both of their opening matches this season, will start at Finchampstead on Sunday, July 22.