SKIPPER Simon Palmer ended a near year-long wait for his 1,400th wicket to help Bishops Castle CC resume competitive cricket in victorious fashion.

Palmer, 47, removed hosts Guilsfield’s opening four batsmen with figures of 4-29 in the Shropshire League’s regionalised Wales and West Division.

“I’ve been stuck on 1,399 for more than eight months,” joked Palmer, who has played for the club for 30 years, “so it was nice to get that sorted!”

Palmer’s flurry helped Castle restrict Guilsfield to 151-8 before Jack Perry bludgeoned the visitors to victory at 156-4, with 78 of his unbeaten 81 coming via boundaries.

“It was slightly surreal to be back playing again,” admitted Palmer, “with the marks on the pitches, sanitising the ball, no teas and having to write everybody’s name down for track and trace.

“But once you got into it, it was fine and great to be back.”

There was no such joy for Ludlow and Church Stretton elsewhere in the Shropshire League.

Ludlow were well beaten at home by Newport in a tough Premier Division Clive Smith Group opener.

When Josh Williams (3-46) claimed his first two victims with successive balls, Newport seemed to be wobbling at 138-5.

However, Saqib Akbar smashed 73 in 36 balls – including eight sixes – as Newport, with support from Sam Davies (56no), posted 274-7.

Luke Miles (2-44) and Alfie Holliehead (2-54) took the other wickets to fall but Ludlow crumbled in reply, tail-ender Holliehead (18) top-scoring as they were dismissed for 129.

Ludlow’s seconds fared even worse, all out for 96 in reply to Lilleshall’s 272-7 in East and South Division Two, George Salwey’s 4-71 with the ball their lone highlight.

Stretton also struggled with the bat in the South Central Division, all out for 92, and while wickets for Keith Yapp (2-7) and Edward Groom (2-29) provided hope, visiting Wellington limped home at 94-5.

It was a happier weekend for Tenbury Wells and Cleobury Mortimer in the Worcestershire League.

Nigel Payne’s 5-33 helped Tenbury dismiss hosts Chaddesley Corbett thirds for 155 and opener Andrew Adams’ 71 saw them home at 158-7.

Cleobury won a big-scoring affair at Kidderminster fourths, surpassing the hosts’ 244-8 on 248-7 with eight balls remaining thanks to Sam Evans (70), Ed Kemp (42) and Oliver Green (42).