George Hargrave’s fine unbeaten century helped Shropshire’s cricketers secure a six-wicket victory over Cornwall at Bridgnorth following an excellent recovery on the final day.
Shropshire went into day three of their third NCCA Championship match of the season trailing the visitors by 181 runs, with Cornwall having six wickets remaining in their second innings.
But an impressive bowling performance – led by Graham Wagg, who claimed 10 wickets in the match – saw Cornwall dismissed for 149.
That set Shropshire a victory target of 224 and opener Hargrave, making his first appearance in the Championship, guided the county home to end unbeaten on 101.
Shropshire coach Jason Weaver said: “It was a fantastic result and really pleasing for the players after all the hard work they put in.
“The first session on the final day was always going to be key. Our plan was to take early wickets which we did, with the bowlers doing really well as they were well supported by the fielders.
“George’s hundred was a very good knock in terms of patience, good decision making, and it made a huge difference to what could have been an awkward chase.”
Cornwall started the final day well placed to push on at 107-4, but their hopes of building a significant lead were dashed as the final six wickets fell for the addition of just 42 runs from their overnight total.
Top scorer Matt Robins went for 42, one of four wickets claimed by Wagg in the second innings, as the former Glamorgan all-rounder took 4-54 from 30 overs to give him stunning overall match figures of 10-107 from 50.2 overs.
“It was just a fantastic performance from Graham,” added Weaver. “We’re very lucky to have him, not only through what he offers with the ball, what he offers with the bat and his contribution in the field, but also the experience he has is a huge help to all of the players.”
Sam Whitney, captaining Shropshire at his home club ground, also played his part with 3-39, with the other wickets in the second innings claimed by Ben Parker (2-11) and James Shaw, who bowled 16 tight overs for 1-10.
Hargrave, having scored two Birmingham League centuries for Shrewsbury in recent weeks, then batted throughout Shropshire’s successful chase.
He struck 12 fours and faced 146 balls on his way to ending 101 not out, completing his century with a boundary off the final ball of the match to wrap up victory.
Hargrave put on 54 for the third wicket with Simon Gregory (33) and 68 for the fourth wicket with Wagg (39) as Shropshire progressed to 227-4 from the final ball of the 50th over. Craig Johnson took 2-33 for the visitors.
Cornwall had elected to bat on the opening day and, inspired by a century from former Worcestershire and Shropshire opener Ollie Westbury, they posted 317 all out.
Westbury, who used to play his club cricket for Shrewsbury, was eventually eighth man out for 124, which came off 250 balls and included 12 fours.
Robins (73) and Paul Smith (31) also weighed in, with Wagg persevering with the ball to record a splendid return of 6-53.
Shropshire’s reply got under way at the start of day two and from 64-5, the county rallied to accumulate 243.
A seventh-wicket stand of 71 between Xavier Clarke and Ben Lees led the revival.
Shifnal’s Clarke struck a dozen fours in making 78 from 79 balls, his highest score for Shropshire.
Bridgnorth wicketkeeper Lees followed up his four catches and a stumping on the opening day by hitting 50, his maiden half-century in three-day cricket, which came off 95 deliveries and featured seven boundaries.
Ellis Whiteford (2-37), Ben Ellis (2-39) and Tommy Sturgess (2-69) shared the wickets for Cornwall.
Leading by 74 runs at the halfway stage, Cornwall’s second innings quickly saw them reduced to 14-2 after Parker struck twice for Shropshire.
When Wagg then removed Westbury for 19, Cornwall found themselves 43-3.
Visiting captain Scott Harvey (30) and Robins saw them to 107-4 by the close, but then came the dramatic final day as Shropshire hit back in style to seal victory.
The result sets the county up nicely for their final Western Division Two match of the season against Devon, which starts at Sidmouth on Sunday.
Coach Weaver said: “You get a lot of confidence from a win and we’ll be looking to take that forward into our final game.
“We’ve identified areas that we’re looking to develop and we are developing all the time as a young group of players.
“It was a good team performance against Cornwall, with Graham’s 10 wickets in the match and George’s hundred playing a huge part in our victory.”
Weaver added his thanks to Bridgnorth for staging the match so well: “We were looked after brilliantly by Bridgnorth,” he said. “On behalf of the players and the club, a big thank you to everyone at Bridgnorth Cricket Club for all their help and assistance.”