Bridgnorth captain Sam Whitney insists representing Shropshire at his home club ground is extra special as he prepares for the county’s final match of an enjoyable season this weekend.
Whitney has impressed in all three formats for Shropshire this year, his first as a county regular, and now he’s looking forward to facing Devon in the Unicorns Championship in a three-day clash which starts at Cricket Meadow on Sunday morning.
Second-placed Shropshire, 15 points behind leaders Berkshire, go into the season’s finale still with a mathematical chance of being crowned Western Division champions after winning four of their five Championship matches.
Whitney, a leg spinner who has also chipped in with useful runs down the order, said: “After the first innings in our last game against Wales at Oswestry we were thinking we had just been smashed for 421 and Berkshire had been bowled out for about 140 at Cheshire.
“We thought we had missed our chance, but we managed to turn it around and win, but unfortunately for us Berkshire did the same to also win their game.
“I’ve had a look at the table and we’re 15 points behind. Anything could still happen. Hopefully Dorset can help us out against Berkshire, but we’ve just got to do the job against Devon first.”
Whitney has relished having the chance to showcase his talents in a Shropshire shirt and he’s been pleased to have played his part in the county enjoying a successful campaign.
“It’s been brilliant,” he said. “I’m aching a lot as I’ve not played this much cricket in a season for a while, but it’s been really good with the results we’ve had.
“We went so far in the one-day competition and it’s been really good to be around the lads. Everyone has had a really good attitude, everyone is very positive.
“When I first got in the team towards the end of last season, everyone was a little bit down as the team had drawn a few games where they had only just hung on for the draw. But this year we’ve been winning games and everyone has been right on it. Everyone’s been pretty relaxed and contributed to what we’ve done.
“It was good to train through last winter and to play a full season. It’s been brilliant, especially winning games, as that always helps.”
Whitney, whose brother Jono was a county regular for many years before emigrating to Australia, made his home debut for Shropshire in a victory over Wiltshire at Bridgnorth in the final Championship match of last season.
He’s now excited about having the chance to represent the county in his home town again.
“I started junior coaching at the club when I was probably about four-years-old and I’ve played here ever since,” add Whitney. “I’ve got my own space in the changing room, my own seat at the tea table. I don’t think I could ever leave to be honest.
“It was great to play at Bridgnorth against Wiltshire last year. When the county have played at Bridgnorth in the past, I’ve usually been helping out with the ground, pushing the sight screens, something like that, so it is nice to actually be on the other side of the boundary and playing.
“A lot of people come down and watch. I know everyone in the town who comes along. I get a bit heckled as well, so it’s all good fun, and as I’ve played for Bridgnorth all my life everyone wants me to do well here.
“It is extra special to play for the county at Bridgnorth and, while I know I’m biased, I don’t think there’s a better ground to play at in Shropshire.
“We usually do quite well at Bridgnorth, as I’ve seen in the past, so hopefully it stays a lucky ground.”
Whitney’s Bridgnorth team mate Adam Quiney, an all-rounder, will make his Shropshire debut against Devon. Quiney has enjoyed an impressive season with bat and ball for the Birmingham League first division promotion contenders, averaging just under 30 batting down the order and taking 44 league wickets, including two six-wicket hauls.
Shrewsbury batsman Will Parton is handed a quick recall after missing the county’s last match. Gurjit Sandhu is unavailable while Jack Twigger, who has been struggling with a chest infection, will be 12th man for this game.
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, said that Quiney deserved his chance following an impressive season.
He added: “Adam’s having a really good season, taking wickets and scoring runs for Bridgnorth, and he’s a talented all-rounder. He’s a left-arm medium pacer, one of the leading wicket takers in the division, and he will give us a bit of control. He’s also chipped in with the bat for Bridgnorth.
“We’ve decided to go with an extra batter this time, so Will is quickly back in the team.
“This is a game we’re looking forward to and it’s one we know we need to win to put some pressure on Berkshire. You never know what could happen.”
The first ball will be bowled at Bridgnorth at 10.30am on Sunday, with admission free for spectators on all three days.
Shropshire: Steve Leach (Shifnal, captain), Omar Ali (C&R Hawks), Will Parton (Shrewsbury), Joe Carrasco (Oswestry), Warrick Fynn (Oswestry), Alexei Kervezee (Halesowen), Ross Aucott (Shifnal), Ryan Lockley (Bridgnorth), Sam Whitney (Bridgnorth), Adam Quiney (Bridgnorth), Alex Wyatt (Shifnal). 12th man: Jack Twigger (Wellington).