CRICKET: Coles treasures title triumph
MIKE Coles reckons the ‘unbelievable’ day that Wiltshire won the Unicorns Championship Western Division will live long in the memory of his county charges.
Wiltshire’s dramatic four-wicket win at Shropshire saw them become Western Division champions for the first time in their history and skipper Coles was delighted that his team’s decision to effectively forfeit their first innings in order to chase a result paid dividends, with the county going on to top the table by just two points.
“It was an unbelievable day really. It’s something that we’re all going to remember for the rest of our lives and can’t be taken away from us,” said the Wiltshire captain.
“I know that we’re going in to a Championship final (against Eastern Division champions Staffordshire next month) but that’s a bonus really. When we discussed it, none of the lads could really remember who won the championship last year.
“With what was going on in the other games, it was a big gamble to declare early in our first innings and not go for the bonus points. Neil (Shardlow, team manager) is usually a lot more conservative and it was tough convincing him.
“It was great that Shropshire forfeited their innings and let us chase down their score and Clarkey’s (Neil Clark) innings was just brilliant – it was great for him to play a big part in what’s really his first full season of championship cricket.
“I think it’s all going to take a little bit of time to sink in.”
Stephen Leach (126) was at the forefront of Shropshire’s rush to 332-9, with Tahir Afridi taking four wickets, and after Wiltshire declared at 61-2 after just 16 overs of their first innings, the home side instantly followed suit to force a result.
Gurman Randhawa, who took seven wickets over three days in Whitchurch, had Wiltshire’s first four wickets for just 71 runs but Clark stepped up, hitting 16 fours on his way to an unbeaten 126.
Supported by Adam Miles’ 44, Clark guided the visitors to 275-6 and the title midway through the 75th over.
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