Staffordshire ease to Shropshire victory to complete productive weekend

Staffordshire cruised to a seven-wicket victory over Shropshire in their 50-over friendly at Himley today.

The two sides had been due to meet at the same venue in the opening matches of the NCCA Twenty20 Cup, but the competition has been called off because of ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

However, they took the opportunity to brush up on their limited-overs skills instead ahead of their meeting in Knockout Trophy Group One in June.

And it was Staffordshire who took the honours as they overhauled Shropshire’s 211-8 with more than 15 overs to spare.

Staffs and Shropshire kept cards close to their chest, with both teams missing players who will be expected to be prominent when the competitive action starts in the National Counties Cricket Association programme.

It was two players who will be regulars, though, who steered Staffordshire to a comprehensive success.

The home side had seen the early dismissals of Liam Banks and Zen Malik – both to David Laird – leave them 28-2.

Staffs’ one-day captain Alex Mellor proved to be an immovable object as he forged an 87-run stand for the third wicket with Walsall’s Amit John.

Mellor was the dominant partner and reached his half-century off just 54 balls with five fours and two sixes.

Staffordshire's one-day captain Alex Mellor made 82 not out against Shropshire.
Staffordshire’s one-day captain Alex Mellor made 82 not out against Shropshire.

Their alliance came to an end with the score on 115 when John was trapped lbw by Charlie Home for 19.

That merely brought Michael Hill to the crease and the two Staffordshire left-handers showed some impressive early-season form.

In fact, Mellor played second fiddle in their match-clinching partnership as Hill ran through the gears.

He compiled a run-a-ball half-century, before opening his shoulders when victory was all-but assured.

The classy Meakins performer concluded matters in style by hitting Ben Roberts for a four and three sixes off successive deliveries to round off an easy win.

Hill walked off unbeaten on 71, off 53 balls, with Mellor making an unbeaten 82.

Earlier in the day, Shropshire, who had won the toss and elected to bat, struggled to 96-5.

Their skipper – former Glamorgan all-rounder Graham Wagg – showed his quality to make 50, while Laird added 36 in the closing stages.

Seamer Alex Coates and spinner Malik both finished with 3-35 for Staffordshire.

Longton seamer Alex Coates took 3-35 to help to restrict Shropshire in Staffordshire's friendly win.
Longton seamer Alex Coates took 3-35 to help to restrict Shropshire in Staffordshire’s friendly win.

The stage was then set for Mellor and Hill to shine to wrap up a comfortable victory ahead of the sides’ meeting at Wem on Sunday, June 27.

The victory capped off a fine weekend for Staffordshire after they claimed two Twenty20 wins against Longton on Saturday.

In the first encounter at Ripon Road, Staffs posted 119-7 from their 20 overs. Louis Allison top-scored with 44, while Tom Hope picked up 4-21.

Longton were dismissed for 81 in reply as left-arm spinner Paul Byrne snared 3-17.

Match two saw North Staffs and South Cheshire League Premier Division side Longton skittled for 82 as seam duo Dan Richardson and Dan Gibbs took 5-18 and 3-15 respectively.

Staffordshire romped to an eight-wicket win in the 11th over thanks to 36 not out from Eccleshall’s Myles Coughlan and Hill’s unbeaten 30.

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