Sam Baugh hit a fine half century on his National Counties Cricket Association debut as Shropshire were beaten by four wickets by Cheshire in the NCCA Trophy at Wem.
Batting at eight, Bridgnorth left-arm spinner Baugh top scored with 64, helping to lift the Shropshire total from 127-6 to 228 all out in the final over.
But it didn’t prove to be enough as Cheshire responded with 229-6, reaching their target at the start of the 45th over, to seal victory on a day that Wem hosted a Shropshire first-team match for the first time since 2009.
The result ended Shropshire’s hopes of pushing for a top two place in Group Three of the One Day Trophy and qualifying for the knockout stages of the 50-over competition.
Shropshire will complete their group fixtures at Norfolk on Sunday, with captain Graham Wagg looking for his team to pick up a win to give them momentum ahead of the start of their three-day matches in the NCCA Championship.
“It’s not easy going there,” said Wagg. “We’re going to turn up and try and put things right because momentum and getting into good habits and winning habits are vital in sport.
“If we can get a win under our belt against Norfolk, we’re then into the three-day competition and it would just give us that bit of momentum.”
Wagg praised the contribution of Baugh after he impressed with the bat after being given his first experience of playing at NCCA level.
But the Shropshire skipper felt his side “were 30 or 40 runs short in the end” and he was “frustrated” with his team’s fielding performance and said it needs to improve.
“We had a good long chat afterwards and there were 100 per cent some positives to take out of the game,” said Wagg.
“Sam Baugh coming into his first game – he had played a couple of friendlies before – the way he went about it and the way he was in the dressing room, I thought his attitude was excellent.
“He got us up to a score along with Sam Whitney. Without that partnership we’re looking at 150, 160, which is very poor.
“To get up to the score we did was something for our bowlers to bowl at, but unfortunately Cheshire got off to an absolute flyer and we just didn’t bowl very well.
“Apart from our bowling, we also spoke quite a lot in depth about our fielding and that needs to improve.
“They out-fielded us by a country mile and it’s something we need to improve on going forward.”
Asked to bat, Shropshire lost early wickets and were 37-3 when opener Andre Bradford fell for 24.
Wagg, playing at his home club ground, was in good touch until he was out for 47.
Vice-captain Whitney and the big-hitting Baugh then put on 62 for the seventh wicket.
Whitney contributed 25 and Baugh – whose 50 came off 38 balls and included two sixes and six fours – went on to make 64, from 48 balls, before eventually being run out.
Chris Sanders took 3-36 for Cheshire while Mike Finan claimed 2-32 and Jack Williams 2-37.
Cheshire, in reply, made a strong start as openers Rob Sehmi and Sam Perry quickly put on 98, before Sehmi, the visiting captain, was caught close to the boundary by Charlie Walker off Whitney in the 15th over.
Perry (43), former Leicestershire batter Harry Dearden (31) and Will Evans (21) kept the scoreboard ticking over, but a flurry of wickets saw Cheshire go from 162-2 to 197-6.
Alex Money (28no) and Sanders (23no) then combined to guide the visitors to 229-6 with more than five overs to spare.
The wickets were shared between Matty Simmonds and Wagg, who both took 2-32, and Whitney (2-42).