WILTSHIRE team boss Neil Shardlow admits confidence is ‘sky-high’ among his squad after their remarkable turnaround this season continued.
The county side, who failed to win a competitive game in 2013, maintained their unbeaten start to this summer’s campaign by moving to the brink of qualification for the Unicorns Knockout Trophy quarter finals on Sunday.
The 21-run victory over Cornwall at Corsham last Sunday means Wiltshire only need to beat Dorset – who they defeated in a pre-season friendly – in Bournemouth on Sunday to reach the knockout stages.
Shardlow said: “After last year’s results, where we didn’t manage to secure a win all season other than in the first friendly match, we’ve won two from two in the trophy – but I prefer to count our friendly wins and look at it as four from four.
“The personnel haven’t changed too much from last year but we have added a little bit of experience to the squad.
“We didn’t start the season with any targets but now we’re in pole position to qualify through to the quarter-finals."
Meanwhile, captain Mike Coles admits he hasn’t been paying too much attention to Wiltshire’s position in their Unicorns Knockout Trophy group as he focuses on helping the county extend their winning run.
Wiltshire, who sit second in Group One, notched up their fourth victory of the summer last weekend as they beat Cornwall by 21 runs in a rain-reduced encounter at Corsham.
Coles, who hit a half-century, praised the grounds staff at Station Road for allowing their Trophy clash to go ahead and is hoping his side can continue their march towards the knockout stages.
“The pitch was under water when I got there but Cornwall were keen to play because they’d already lost a game. Thanks to the grounds staff at Corsham because a lot of clubs would have just said ‘it’s off’,” he said.
“I think that when there’s less overs in a game, it can become a bit of a bunfight but with our batting line-up, we always knew we’d have a good chance. It didn’t start well but Joe Breet and I got some good scores.
“We also took three or four really good catches – I said before that we’ve worked on our fielding and those catches were half-chances that we took.
“I haven’t really looked where we are in the table yet and I’m just thinking about trying to beat Dorset down in Bournemouth next weekend.
“We beat them in a friendly a few weeks ago, where they played their best side and we had a few missing, so we’ve got to be confident.”
After being put in to bat, Wiltshire were plunged into a perilous position at 3-3 but Joe Breet (85 not out) and Coles (53) steadied the ship to help the hosts post 185-8 after 26 overs, with Cornwall’s Sam Hockin and Matt Robins taking two wickets apiece.
Paul Smith (40), Kelvin Snell (32) and Andrew Libby (30) were at the forefront of the visitors’ run chase but Tahir Afridi (3-27) and Jake Roberts (2-19) ensured that Cornwall were skittled for 164 in the penultimate over.
Victory at Dorset this Sunday (11am start) will see Wiltshire progress.
Wiltshire team v Dorset: Michael Coles (Corsham, Captain), Tahir Afridi (Henley), Joe Breet (Lechlade), Neil Clark (Potterne), Tom Foley (Corsham), James Hayward (South Wilts), Ed Kilbee (Goatacre), Adam Miles (Cardiff), Ashur Morrison (Corsham), Tom Morton (South Wilts), Jake Roberts (Potterne).
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