Shropshire open with defeat as skipper Oliver stands down

Richard Oliver's final game as Shropshire captain ended in disappointment as the county were beaten by eight wickets by Wales in their opening Unicorns Championship match of the season.

Wales needed just a single run to seal victory off the first over of the final morning of the three-day clash at Pontarddulais and duly achieved their target with the minimum of fuss despite an early wicket for Mohammed Ishtiaq.

Shropshire will now hope to produce a much better performance in their next Championship match against Herefordshire at Shifnal between June 22-24 by which time they plan to have a new man at the helm after Oliver stood down.

The opening batsman has been handed a contract by Worcestershire until the end of next season following an impressive trial at New Road although he still hopes to play for the county when he's available. 

Shropshire chairman of selectors Brian Foxall said: "Richard is giving up the captaincy so we are now discussing his successor. It will be discussed at our committee meeting next Monday night - but Richard would still like to play some cricket for Shropshire if and when he has the chance."

Oliver had hoped his final game in charge would go much better, but a Wales side, inspired by teenage Glamorgan all-rounder Ruaidhri Smith, a Shrewsbury School old boy, had other ideas.

Shropshire, invited to bat first, were bowled out for 182 on the opening day. James Ralph top scored with 40 while there were also contributions from Omar Ali (32) and Jack Edwards (30) as Smith helped himself to 5-52.

Wales established a 15 run first innings lead when they responded with 197, Smith leading the way with a determined 40 in the middle order.

Fit-again former Yorkshire paceman Ben Sanderson took 3-21 from 13 lively overs while there were two wickets apiece for Neil Saker, Oliver and debutant Ishtiaq, who claimed a double wicket maiden in his first over for the county.

Shropshire's problems then really begun as they were bowled out for just 62 inside 23 overs, their lowest total in the Championship for many a year.

Ali (17) and Oliver (13) were the only men to reach double figures as man of the match Smith snared 6-24 to make it 11 wickets for the match.

That left Wales requiring just 48 to victory and they tried to wrap up victory on the second day, but fell just short as they brought the scores level right on the 7.30pm cut off point which meant they had to return on Tuesday morning to complete the formalities of an eight-wicket victory as they eased to 48-2.

"It was very disappointing," added Foxall. "We expect availability to be better for the next game and hopefully we can give a better account of ourselves.

"Having lost the toss, batting was difficult on the first day. I thought we battled well to get 182 because there was a lot of movement in the wicket.

"We then also battled quite well when we bowled and we were back in the game.

"Play didn't start until 3.45pm on the second day after torrential overnight rain and most of the square had not been covered.

"Wales opened up a small first innings lead of 15 runs and when we batted again it was a very disappointing performance. Their bowlers seemed to get a little bit more out of the wicket than we did."

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