Bears turn on the style in front of big Bridgnorth crowd

The class of Birmingham Bears told as they beat Shropshire by 97 runs in front of a big crowd in a Twenty20 challenge match at Bridgnorth.

The Bears, the new name adopted by Warwickshire for the NatWest t20 Blast competition, fielded a number of internationals in their side, among them England batsman Jonathan Trott who made a welcome return to cricket when he fielded the full 20 overs.

Shropshire captain Richard Oliver said it was a great occasion and that Bridgnorth had been perfect hosts, but he was a little disappointed his side did not manage to run the Bears a little closer.

He said: "It was a good wicket, a big crowd, and everything has been run as you would expect, like we do with the Resource Bank hospitality days. This county's very well run and the right people are in the right place so we've very lucky about that.

"It's been a great occasion and I hope the crowd's enjoyed it. It's a shame we couldn't get closer but I don't think you can ask for much more.

"Usually it rains on these occasions but the weather's been good to us which was great as well and the Warwickshire lads are a good bunch of blokes so it just made for a nice occasion."

Oliver added: "They're a different league to a lot of first class counties, let alone us. Although I was pretty disappointed watching that second half especially, at the end of the day there's no disgrace losing to a team like that.

"Obviously, we would have liked to have been a lot better, but on the night we weren't. They came here expecting to win and they did.

"We were always underdogs and if we had got close it would have been nice. If we had got close enough to maybe even sneak it it would have been even nicer, but on the evidence of what we've seen it would take something special to get near them."

The Bears, captained by Varun Chopra, batted first and rattled up an imposing 201-9 from their 20 overs. Opener William Porterfield led the way with 67 from 38 balls and Jonathan Webb added 35.

Shropshire stuck to their task well and picked up a flurry of late wickets, with two each for Jack Edwards (2-27) and skipper Oliver (2-38).

Shropshire, in reply, needed a good start to make a game of it, but the Edgbaston attack had different ideas and the hosts were soon up against it at 29-5.

Bridgnorth's James Ralph, a late call up to replace the unavailable Rob Foster, did his best to steady the ship by making 15 and Anthony Parker (13) also joined captain Oliver (11) in making double figures.

But Shropshire's star turn with the bat proved to be Gurman Randhawa, at No 8, who hit an unbeaten 37 to steer the home side to 104-8 at the close.

Towering England paceman Boyd Rankin grabbed 3-3 from three lively overs while Chris Wright also impressed with the ball in taking 3-17.

The Bears players enjoyed their night's work which sets them up nicely for their opening T20 Blast fixture against Yorkshire on Friday night.  

Man of the match Porterfield, the Ireland national team captain, said: "Everyone's been really welcoming and it's been a great night for the club and for Shropshire cricket.

"There was a big crowd in and it was a great evening for it so I'm sure they couldn't have asked for any more."

"It was great for ourselves to get out there and put in to practice what we've been talking about. It was nice to get a good run out and a good win under our belts."

Shropshire are now targeting the victory they need against Cumberland at Cockermouth on Sunday to book a place in the quarter finals of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

Oliver added: "It's a long way to go to not be coming back with the points. If anything this week has been a good wake up call and we're going to Cumberland all systems go.

"Hopefully we'll put in a performance worthy of bringing back the points."

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