Stunning fightback seals Shropshire victory

Shropshire staged an astonishing fightback to claim their opening Unicorns Championship victory of the season.

Visitors Oxfordshire lost their final nine wickets for just 17 runs as some inspired bowling from former Yorkshire men Gurman Randhawa and Ben Sanderson together with Ross Aucott saw the visitors remarkably collapse from 37-1 to 54 all out.

It all added up to a memorable first game back as captain for James Ralph as he led Shropshire to an ultimately convincing 166 run victory at Bridgnorth, his home club ground.

"It was just remarkable really," said Brian Foxall, Shropshire's chairman of selectors. "Oxfordshire were chasing 221 for victory from a minimum of 72 overs and if they had batted their overs I'm sure they would have won the match.

"They were 31-1 at lunch but once the second wicket fell the game changed completely.

"We bowled very well and the two pros, Sanderson and Randhawa, were exemplary. Ross Aucott was also very impressive with the ball and he's one of the young players to have come into the team and taken their chance very well.

"None of the young players have looked out of place since being given an opportunity and this result will do confidence the world of good going forward."

Spinner Randhawa prompted the Oxfordshire second innings collapse by taking 4-15 from a dozen overs while he was well backed up by Aucott (3-15) and Sanderson (2-19) as Shropshire bounced back in style from heavy defeats against Wales and Herefordshire in their two opening Championship games of the season.

Shropshire had opted to bat first on day one and recovered from 42-4 to post a competitive total of 284 which was built around 74 from Ryan Lockley off 118 balls and 72 from Randhawa. Omar Ali also added a rapid 38.

Oxfordshire, in reply, established a first innings lead as they rattled up 323-6. Jonny Cater led the way with an unbeaten 117 as he shared in a 154 run stand with Hugo Darby who just missed out on a ton when he was out for 99.

Ralph, Randhawa and Aucott plugged away to take two wickets apiece.

Shropshire were then bowled out for 259 as they built a 220 run lead.

Lockley struck his second half century of the match, top scoring with 57, and he put on 102 for the third wicket with Quatt's Adrian Evans, who made 52, his maiden Championship half century.

Wicketkeeper Simon Gregory (46) and Tom Weston (24) also contributed valuable runs down the order before the drama of Oxfordshire's second innings as the home bowlers ruthlessly turned the screw handed Shropshire a morale-boosting victory.

Shropshire's next Unicorns Championship match is against Cornwall at St Austell between July 20 and 22.

But they are quickly back in action on Thursday when they take on a star-studded Invitational XI featuring a trio of Test players in Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq, Indian opening batsman Wasim Jaffer and West Indies paceman Corey Collymore at Wrekin College in the annual ResourceBank challenge match.

The match will be played over two innings of 20 overs per side and be the showpiece of Shropshire’s hugely popular annual hospitality event which will attract a crowd of more than 600 people.

More than 50 tables have been sold with guests watching the cricket from a marquee on the edge of the boundary while enjoying sumptuous food and drink throughout the day.

Members of the public are also welcome to watch the match which starts at Wrekin College at 11am with admission free.

Pictured: Shropshire's in-form spinner Gurman Randhawa who took four wickets in Oxfordshire's second innings as the visitors collapsed to 54 all out.


Pete White Pete White

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