Record-breaking George Hargrave brilliantly hit centuries in both innings to inspire Shropshire to a stunning victory by five wickets over Dorset in the Durant Cricket National Counties Championship.
Hargrave followed up making 115 in the first innings by compiling a magnificent 201 on the third and final day as Shropshire, also helped by an unbeaten century from Tom Fell, impressively progressed to 385-5.
It’s the highest ever Championship run chase by Shropshire – and Hargrave also secured a place in the club’s record books by hitting the highest individual score in a Championship match by a Shropshire player.
The previous best was an unbeaten 182 by Gary Fellows against Wales at Colwyn Bay in 2005.
Hargrave joins John Abrahams – who scored two centuries for Shropshire against Buckinghamshire at Wellington in 1990 – as only the second Shropshire player to reach three figures twice in the same Championship match.
Ed Home, Shropshire’s head of cricket, said: “I’ve been involved with cricket at various levels for a number of years, and while George batted well in the first innings, he took it to a different level on the final day and it was very special.
“He and Ollie Westbury did a great job for the first hour and a half. Tom Fell then came in and he was the perfect partner for George.
“He just let him play. Tom would get one, put the odd bad ball away, and get George back on strike. They worked very well together as a partnership.
“Records are there to be broken. It’s really pleasing for me that George has set the new record. When he was far younger than he is now, I was involved with managing his Shropshire under-10 and under-11 teams, so it’s very nice to see him playing so well.
“It was also lovely for Tom Fell to go to his hundred with the last shot of the game.”
Home added: “It was an amazing three days of cricket. Dorset had a record partnership of over 400 on the first day, but we dusted ourselves down on the second day.
“We battled hard but again found it tough and they bowled and fielded well.
“Dorset thought they could bowl us out again and they gave us a sporting declaration.
“It takes two sides to have a great game of cricket. There’s plenty of sides that wouldn’t have necessarily done that, so you have to take your hat off to them.
“We didn’t lose a wicket on Monday night, which was vital, and then the last day, you don’t see an innings like George’s very often.”
Trailing at the halfway stage by 174 runs and set a victory target of 385, Shropshire started the final day at Wimborne Cricket Club on 35-0.
Hargrave and Ollie Westbury moved the score along to 131 before Westbury was caught behind for 48.
Shrewsbury opener Hargrave went on to complete his second century of the match just before lunch and, after a delayed start to the afternoon session owing to rain, he really cut loose to pass 150 and then 200.
The consistent Hargrave, who put on 165 for the second wicket with Fell, eventually departed caught and bowled to David Scott for a wonderful 201, from 190 balls, with three sixes and 27 fours.
Shropshire then quickly lost three more wickets, but Fell was still there and, supported by skipper Charlie Home, he wrapped up victory by completing his century as he hit the winning boundary.
Fell, the former Worcestershire batter, ended unbeaten on 103, from 132 balls, which included 12 fours.
The opening day of an extraordinary match was particularly memorable for Dorset duo Sam Young and David Scott as they batted the home side into a strong position.
There was no sign of what was to come when Dorset, invited to bat, found themselves 20-2 early on, but Young and Scott then joined forces for an unbroken third-wicket stand of 415.
It’s a new record partnership for any Dorset wicket in the Championship and also the highest for any wicket by any county against Shropshire.
Their efforts led Dorset to 435-2 from 90 overs, with former Somerset batter Young leading the way with an unbeaten 217, from 240 balls, which featured seven sixes and 14 fours.
Scott was also in fine touch, closing on 183 not out, from 246 deliveries, with 15 boundaries.
Shropshire ended the day on 62-0, and after losing Westbury (41) early the following morning, Hargrave went on to impressively reach three figures.
Hargrave was out just before lunch for an excellent 115, from 183 balls, which included a six and 14 fours, as he became the first player to score a Championship century for the county this year.
Shropshire were well placed at one stage at 210-4 before losing wickets regularly as they were bowled out for 261 in the 74th over.
Andre Bradford (24), Ben Lees (23) and Jack Home (22) were the other leading contributors, as seamer Ed Bartlett claimed 6-53 for the hosts.
Dorset stretched their advantage to 384 runs after declaring their second innings on 210-7 in the 42nd over.
Sam Ellis (2-39) ensured there was no repeat of Scott (30) and Young’s first innings exploits by removing both of them.
Opener Jacob Gordon top scored with 58, with Alex Eckland (46) and Simon Woodruff (32) also weighing in for the hosts.
Jack Home claimed 3-36 and skipper Home 2-32, with Hargrave and Westbury then knocking 35 runs off Shropshire’s target during the final seven overs of the day to set up the thrilling final-day chase.
Shropshire’s final Championship match of the season against Wiltshire starts at Whitchurch Cricket Club on Sunday, August 20.