Sam Whitney hopes Shropshire can sign off their National Counties Cricket Association Championship season on a positive note against Devon.
The three-day Western Division Two match starts at Bridgnorth on Sunday at 11am, with Whitney relishing the opportunity to captain the county at his home club ground.
Whitney has some good memories of representing the county at Cricket Meadow – and he now wants Shropshire to end the 2022 campaign in style.
“We always seem to do quite well at Bridgnorth,” said Whitney. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Shropshire’s Championship season has so far produced a home win over Wales at Oswestry, with away defeats at Wiltshire and by one wicket in a dramatic finish at Cornwall last month.
Currently second in the league table, Shropshire are 16 points behind leaders Wales, with just eight points between Shropshire, Devon, Wiltshire and Cornwall.
Shropshire and Wales have just one Championship match to play, with two fixtures remaining for Devon, Wiltshire and Cornwall. The champions will be promoted to Western Division One.
The other match in the division starting this weekend sees Wiltshire host Cornwall, with the final fixtures, which begin the following Sunday, August 21, Cornwall at home to Wales, and Devon against Wiltshire.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” added Whitney. “If we can put in a big performance against Devon and if we have a good win, it could put ourselves in top spot.
“We’ve got to put pressure on the other teams. That’s all we can do really – but it’s not in our hands then.”
Shrewsbury opener George Hargrave, who struck an unbeaten 69 for Shropshire against Derbyshire in the recent NCCA showcase match at Shifnal, will make his first Championship appearance of the season.
Skipper Whitney, Quatt all-rounder Ryan Wheldon and Bridgnorth left-arm spinner Sam Baugh also return to the side edged out in a tense finish by Cornwall in the county’s most recent Championship match.
They replace Jack Home, Will Wade, David Laird and Ben Parker, who are all unavailable.
Whitney said: “George Hargrave likes batting at Bridgnorth and got a ton there last year against Cornwall.
“He’s coming off the back of a century for Shrewsbury a couple of weeks ago and he also recently had a triple hundred for Oxford University, so he’s in form and he just loves batting. It’s great to have him in the side.
“I wanted a seam bowling option for an all-rounder and Ryan Wheldon gives me that. He’s a good cricketer and played a part in the win against Wales, so it’s nice to get him back in.
“Sam Baugh’s having a great season. He’s scored his first Birmingham League 50, his first Shropshire 50 and he’s full of confidence. He’s a wicket taker, so we’re excited to have Sam and Joe Stanley in the side.”
As for facing Devon, Whitney added: “We’re looking forward to playing Devon and hopefully they bring a big crowd to Bridgnorth like Cornwall did last year.
“Calum Haggett has played first-class cricket for Kent and he’s a very good player, experienced, and they also have the likes of Matt Thompson, who’s a very good cricketer.”
Admission is free for spectators to attend on all three days at Bridgnorth.
George Hargrave (Shrewsbury), Andre Bradford (Swarkestone), Xavie Clarke (Ammanford), Graham Wagg (Wem), Ryan Wheldon (Quatt), Ben Lees (Bridgnorth), Joe Stanley (Wolverhampton), Sam Ellis (Formby), Sam Whitney (Bridgnorth, captain), Sam Baugh (Bridgnorth), Ben Roberts (Brymbo).