Shropshire’s NCCA Championship season ended in style with a three-wicket win over Devon after chasing well on the final morning at Sidmouth.
Shropshire sealed victory, in a match that featured an excellent century from Graham Wagg on the opening day, shortly before lunch on day three.
Sam Ellis, Ben Lees and Mitchell Stanley guided Shropshire home with the bat as the county followed up last week’s win against Cornwall by securing another impressive result in three-day cricket.
The victory means Shropshire finish the season second in Western Division Two behind table-toppers Herefordshire.
Shropshire coach Jason Weaver said: “I’m really pleased for the players as they have worked hard and shown good commitment throughout the season. We are pleased to finish on a high with a good win.
“The way that Sam, Ben and Mitch played, all three young players, was impressive. They batted with discipline and worked very hard to get us over the line. They played the situation really well.”
Reflecting on the season, Weaver added: “There’s lots of positives to be taken from the season, both in the one-day and three-day competitions.
“As always, we have identified areas that we want to improve on and that will be something we will look to address over the winter.”
Shropshire started the final day on 155-6 with 58 more runs still required to complete victory.
Lees and Ellis moved the score along to 186 when Lees, the Bridgnorth wicketkeeper, having made 25, was caught by Elliot Hamilton off Matthew Skeemer.
But it was to prove Devon’s only wicket on the final day as Ellis (21no) and Stanley (20no) combined to lead Shropshire to victory at 213-7.
Devon had elected to bat on an opening day which saw Shropshire’s former Glamorgan all-rounder Wagg take centre stage.
Devon were quickly reduced to 26-3 before a fourth-wicket partnership of 81 between Calum Haggett (47) and captain Matt Thompson (39).
Both were removed by young seamer Ben Parker (3-37) ahead of Wagg going on to claim 5-16 from 15 overs as Devon were bowled out for 148.
Shropshire, in reply, found themselves 92-9, with opener George Hargrave (22) the only man apart from Wagg to trouble the scorers.
But then Wagg, having completed a half century from 52 balls, cut loose to produce an extraordinary batting display which saw his second 50 compiled off just 15 deliveries.
He struck 11 sixes and nine fours in making an entertaining 109 from 69 balls, eventually falling to a catch close to the boundary as he went for another big shot.
Wagg put on 86 for the last wicket with Parker, who provided fine support to allow Wagg to go on the attack and lift the Shropshire total to 178.
Skeemer (4-25) and Haggett (4-51) were among the wickets for the home side.
Coach Weaver, impressed with Wagg’s second Championship century of the season, said: “It was a fantastic knock and a match-winning innings in the situation that we were in.
“It was some of the most destructive batting that I’ve certainly seen.”
Devon, who were 30 runs behind Shropshire at the halfway stage, closed the first day on 22-1, before losing wickets at regular intervals the following morning.
They were 122-6 at lunch, with opener James Horler making 31.
Former Kent all-rounder Haggett held the Devon innings together, sharing an eighth-wicket stand of 77 with Ed Middleton (24), as the hosts recovered from 138-7 to 242 all out.
Haggett was last man out for 109, which came off 115 balls and included five sixes and 12 fours.
Worcestershire’s Stanley, making his NCCA Championship debut for his home county, took 3-38, with spinners James Shaw (2-38) and Sam Whitney (2-56) also playing their part.
That left Shropshire chasing 213 for victory and they ended the second day on 155-6, losing Wagg, bowled by Skeemer just before the close for 36, after Simon Gregory and Xavier Clarke had earlier both made 30.
Shropshire then got the job done the following morning to enjoy a successful conclusion to their Championship campaign.
“We had fantastic support from the Shropshire supporters for all three days, so a big thank you to them,” said Weaver.
“Sidmouth is a fantastic venue and we were well looked after by the club and all the people from Devon County Cricket Club, so thanks to them.”
Shropshire will play their final match of the season, a Twenty20 fixture against the RAF representative side, at Wellington on Thursday at 5pm.