NEIL Shardlow is content that the foundations are falling into place for Wiltshire success as he steps away from Minor Counties cricket after nearly three decades of service.

This week’s six-wicket defeat against Shropshire in the county’s final Unicorns Championship Western Division of the summer brought to a close team manager Shardlow’s involvement with the team, which includes 16 years as a player and 12 in the off-field role.

Shardlow, who will remain peripherally involved and will continue to be Wiltshire’s vice-chairman, admits a Championship season which saw them lose five out of six matches will be classed as a disappointment, but is convinced there are good signs for the coming years.

“A number of players, by their own admission, have been out of form, particularly with the bat, so that’s a little disappointing,’’ said Shardlow.

“I thought after our second game, where we gave Dorset a bit of a hammering, we might go on from there, but we didn’t recover from the Berkshire game, when we were soundly beaten.’’ Wiltshire launched a second team this summer and Shardlow reckons that bodes well for future campaigns.

“I went to watch the seconds and they looked quite strong,’’ he added.

“There are a couple of players there keen to be involved with the first team and we’ll need to think about that next season.’’ Having posted a sizeable 418-7 in their first innings at Bridgnorth, Potterne’s Neil Clark hitting 124 off 102 balls in just 107 minutes, Wiltshire were unable to dismiss their hosts cheaply as Shropshire reached 389 all out.

Wiltshire’s top order were then given the runaround by Dave Wainwright, who took 6-73 from 39 overs, in the second innings that ended at 208.

Set 238 to win, the Shropshire chase was boosted by a first-wicket stand of 95 between Steve Leach (57) and Joe Carrasco (44) and number three Will Parton’s unbeaten knock of 73 off 65 balls proved decisive.

Shardlow added: “After posting a massive total in the first innings, we need to be able to put sides away.

“There have been some good performances this season, but it hasn’t worked for us.

“We need to think about batting long and taking teams out of the game.

“It’s all about getting more experience but there is definitely the talent in that group of players.’’