Captaining Shropshire at Bridgnorth, his home club ground, will be a proud moment for Sam Whitney this weekend.
Whitney, who was appointed Shropshire’s three-day skipper earlier this year, will lead the county in the NCCA Championship match against Cornwall, which starts at Cricket Meadow on Sunday (11am).
After missing the opening Western Division Two match of the season against Herefordshire as he recovered from a shoulder injury, Whitney captained the county for the first time in the Championship in the drawn match away to Wales earlier this month.
Now he’s relishing the opportunity to be Shropshire skipper in more familiar surroundings at Bridgnorth.
“I’ve played all my cricket at Bridgnorth and it’s a very special place for me,” said Whitney.
“I get loads of support every time I play at Bridgnorth for Shropshire. There’s lots of cheering – and a little bit of heckling as well!
“It’s my favourite ground to play at because I’ve played there all my life and I’m really excited to be leading the team out at Bridgnorth, a place I know very well.”
Whitney and his Shropshire team mates will be looking to try and build on the draw secured against Wales at Abergavenny as they prepare to face Cornwall.
Batting at number 10, leg spinner Whitney led from the front against Wales, hitting an unbeaten 66 on the final afternoon – his maiden half-century for the county – as he shared an unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 99 with Sam Ellis.
“I’m not obviously known for my batting, but I always back myself with the bat,” he said.
“A lot of people at Bridgnorth will tell you that because I’m captain, I hide down the order and let everyone else bat where they want. I really fit in where I’m needed.
“I’ve played some similar innings for Bridgnorth like the one I did for Shropshire against Wales. It was good to spend some time out in the middle.
“After we batted first and got 300, I thought we were well in the game. We had them in trouble at 138-6 after Sam Ellis produced a really top quality spell of bowling, but two guys then batted really well for Wales.
“Unfortunately, there were a couple of loose shots on the last day and we got ourselves in a bit of trouble. Graham Wagg batted time and got himself up to 44.
“A couple of other guys batted a bit of time out of the game before Sam Ellis and I just batted really. We didn’t go out there just to block it. We still played a few shots and played our natural games.
“The runs came but we just never got into a position where we could get to a point where we could declare and feel comfortable that they wouldn’t chase down the score.”
Whitney admits it was frustrating to have to miss the opening Championship match of the season – his shoulder injury also prevented him from being available for two of Shropshire’s NCCA Trophy games – but he’s now looking to the future.
He said: “It seems to be fine now and there’s no soreness or anything, so it’s all good.
“Not playing in the Herefordshire game gave me another week to get myself fit and do a lot of exercises. The physio’s been great, everything seems fine, so I’m raring to go.
“I was glad to be back for the game against Wales and now looking forward to being skipper at my home club.”
Shropshire will follow the home game with Cornwall by ending the season against Devon at Sidmouth later this month, with Whitney looking for a strong end to the county’s three-day campaign.
“We’ve done well at Bridgnorth in the past, so I don’t see why we can’t go on and win that game against Cornwall and just give us a bit of confidence going into the Devon game,” he added.