Skipper Olives shines in opening victory

Richard Oliver, Shropshire's in-form captain, provided most of the fireworks as the county opened their Unicorns Knockout Trophy campaign with a four-wicket win over Lincolnshire.

Oliver set high standards in new coach Karl Krikken's first match at the helm as his third century of a memorable week paved the way for an impressive victory at Shrewsbury's London Road ground.

Oliver cracked a glorious 148 from just 82 balls and shared in a brilliant 194 run partnership for the second wicket with England under-19 prospect Joe Clarke who saw the job through for the county with an unbeaten 78.

Oliver's dazzling knock was a new Shropshire one-day batting record in a completed match and team mate Rob Foster was quick to salute his eye-catching efforts.

Foster said: "I've never seen anything like it. The shots he was playing were against good Minor Counties bowlers, lads who have played first class cricket and second team games, and he was dispatching them with ease to all parts of the ground.

"He really backs himself and it's great to see. Everyone who came to watch will probably remember that knock for as long as they live."

Oliver hit two centuries for Worcestershire's second team against Derbyshire earlier in the week and was delighted to continue his fine form.

"That's the way I like to play, when I'm striking the ball like that," he said. "It doesn't happen very often, but I've had a good week and you've just got to make the most of it."

Lincolnshire opted to bat first on winning the toss and racked up 252-7 from their 50 overs.

Dan Bowen, a late call up to replace the injured Ben Sanderson, claimed 2-60 but Shropshire's most economical bowler was new recruit Gurman Randhawa, the former Yorkshire spinner, whose 10 tidy overs went for just 29 runs.

Shropshire, in reply, quickly lost Ed Foster for two but that brought together Oliver and Clarke and they took the game away from Lincolnshire in real style.

Oliver hammered seven towering sixes and 16 boundaries before being bowled for 148.

A flurry of cheap wickets then fell with Tom Cox, Omar Ali, Rob Foster and Anthony Parker all perishing, but Clarke held it together for Shropshire and, fittingly, hit the winning boundary to steer the hosts to 256-6 with nearly 10 overs to spare.

Teenager Clarke faced 103 balls for his unbeaten 78 and struck seven fours as he again underlined his exciting potential, seeing the job through with Randhawa.

Oliver, whose team were beaten by Berkshire in last year's one-day final at Wormsley,  added: "Teams have got to play very well to beat us at the moment. We're back and have put last year behind us so we'll just keep moving forward. It's onwards and upwards.

"We've got a long trip to Northumberland next weekend followed by a tough game against Cheshire and then another long trip to Cumberland.

"It's going to be a big four weeks, a lot of travelling, but I'm more than confident the boys can come out of these four weeks by getting us through to the next stage."


Pete White Pete White

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