Ed Foster

Foster century helps Shrewsbury maintain lead

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

RUN MACHINE Ed Foster helped himself to his second century in as many weeks as Shrewsbury stayed well out in front at the top of the Birmingham League’s premier division.

A week on from hitting a club record 169 against Kidderminster, the imperious Foster was at it again, his class shining through, as Shrewsbury collected 17 points from a winning draw at Barnt Green.

The ultra consistent opener cracked 105 to take his number of Birmingham League runs this season to 636.

“Ed’s playing fantastically at the moment,” said Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster, his younger brother. “His talent is shining through and having spent a lot of time in the middle against Kidderminster this was another great innings.

“He’s seeing the ball really well and the pitches are very good which suits him.”

Foster, who hit nine fours, and Steve Leach, in good touch for 58, put on 135 for the first wicket.

Zain Shahid, who claimed 5-55, helped peg them back a little, but Shrewsbury still managed to post an impressive 263-6 from their 55 overs with Rob Foster (25), Matt Swift (24) and Anthony Parker (20no) also contributing.

Barnt Green, in reply, were quickly in trouble at 34-3 and 62-5 with former Shelton man Sam Griffiths, opening the bowling in the absence of Worcestershire’s in-form Joe Leach, grabbing 3-32.

Steve Barnard, the hero of the dramatic fightback win over Chorley in the ECB National Club Championship the previous Sunday, was also to the fore with 2-32.

But then the home side rallied thanks to 72 from Warwickshire’s Australian under-19 star Sam Hain and an unbeaten 65 from skipper Andy Sutton as they closed on 198-7.

“Sam bowled very well at the top of the order with Steve Barnard,” said the captain. “Alex Johnson also came in and bowled well, beating the edge a few times, but he didn’t have a lot of luck.

“We didn’t perhaps have our best day in the field as we dropped a couple of chances but it happens sometimes.

“We were happy to come away with 17 points and would have taken it at the start of the day and it was really a game we dominated from start to finish.”

Shrewsbury are 38 points clear of second placed Brockhampton ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Knowle & Dorridge who sit fourth.

It’s also a big day for Shrewsbury on Sunday as they battle it out with Ombersley, their semi final opponents, Dorridge and West Bromwich Dartmouth at finals day of the Birmingham League’s Twenty20KO at Bromsgrove.

Ed Foster

Foster blasts Kiddi to extend lead

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

ED FOSTER, such a model of consistency down the years, insisted he was thrilled to replace his dad John in the club record books after hitting the highest league score by any Shrewsbury player.

Foster was at his brilliant best as he inspired the London Roaders to a crushing 222 run win in their top of the table clash against Kidderminster in the Birmingham League premier division.

Shrewsbury are now 39 points clear in pole position ahead of Saturday’s trip to Barnt Green.

Foster, an opening bat and former club and county captain just like his dad, is no stranger to weighing in with big scores.

But his efforts in cracking a sparkling 169 to set up an imposing Shrewsbury total of 362-7 was something special even by his high standards.

It eclipsed the previous club record score of 159 achieved by his dad in a Shropshire League match at Shifnal in 1991.

And fittingly Ed’s younger brother, Rob, the current Shrewsbury skipper, was in the middle batting with him when he broke the record.

“It was good fun, a bit surreal really,” said Foster. “It’s not every day you get scores like that, individually and as a team.

“To make over 360 was a brilliant effort and it was a really good win to extend our lead at the top of the table.

“Me and Rob have had it drummed into us since we were young that dad holds the record with 159.

“When I got to 150 Rob was out there batting with me and said ‘you know what’s coming’.

“It was good to get it and quite a lot of people around the ground knew about it so that was nice.”

As well as being a new club record, it was also the highest score racked up by Foster, a man renowned as arguably the leading batsman in the Birmingham League.

“I got 160 when I was playing in Australia once,” he said. “I also scored 155 over here in a league game a couple of years ago but this was comfortably my best.”

Foster helped himself to no fewer than five towering sixes and 18 boundaries with his 169 coming from 133 balls.

He received sound support from brother Rob, who hammered a quickfire 67, and also Joe Leach (45), part of the Worcestershire side beaten by Warwickshire at a sold out New Road in the Friends Life Twenty20 the previous night.

Leach himself is bang in form having cracked 131 for Shrewsbury at Wombourne in the league a week earlier and then 162 for Worcestershire II in their 2nd XI Championship clash against Warwickshire at Ombersley.

There were also runs for Tom Cox (27) and Steve Barnard (20no) as Shrewsbury shone in the sun to accumulate a daunting 362-7 from their 55 overs.

Kidderminster’s much vaunted batting line up were then found wanting as they were dismissed for 140.

Leach (2-27) enjoyed removing his Worcestershire team mate Matt Pardoe, who regularly opens for the Pears, caught and bowled for just two.

And Kidderminster’s other Worcestershire man, Neil Pinner, was caught behind by Anthony Parker off former Shelton paceman Sam Griffiths (2-37) for 19.

Spinner Elliot Green claimed 3-18 and Mike Barnard also played his part with 2-17, with opener Andy Kimberlin (57) the only man to offer any resistance as Kidderminster were well beaten.

“I was really pleased with how well we did because they had two first class cricketers playing for them,” added Ed Foster. “It was a massive game and we’ve put some real daylight between us.

“Everyone really turned it on and contributed to our score and then the bowlers did really well on a pretty flat track to bowl them out for 140.

“It was a really great effort and shows that we have got something special here.”

Steve Barnard

Shrewsbury snatch remarkable National KO victory

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY, who just never give up, grabbed an astonishing victory from the jaws of defeat to set up an exciting quarter final tie at home to West Indian Cavaliers in the quarter finals of the ECB National Club Championship.

Missing a host of first team regulars, the players drafted in to the side dug deep as allrounder Steve Barnard delivered a stunning display to seal a dramatic four run win over Northern Premier League Chorley.

It seemed a formality the Lancastrians would progress when, replying to the home side’s 168-8, they were coasting at 145-1 with plenty of time and wickets to play with.

But then Shrewsbury turned the screw, two runs outs in as many balls changing the entire complexion of the tie, and with Barnard and his brother Mike keeping it tight with the ball, Chorley somehow ended short of their target on 164-6.

“It was unbelievable,” admitted delighted captain Rob Foster, one of only four regulars in the team. “They were cruising the game but we just went up a gear in the field really, and Steve’s death bowling along with Mike’s was just outstanding.

“We just gave ourselves the best chance to get a result.

“I didn’t think it was possible at some points in the game until there were four overs to go. We were just outstanding.

“I keep saying to the lads the longer we stay in the game the more chance there is for us.

“The decision to bat first after winning the toss was purely because pressure cricket does funny things to people on days like this, as we saw.

“Chorley should really have won that game but they just imploded through the pressure built by ourselves.”

Steve Barnard, at No 6, cracked an unbeaten 51 to give the hosts a fighting chance as Shrewsbury made 168-8 from their 45 overs. Skipper Foster (38) and Will Parton (29) also contributed.

Chorley, in reply, were sell set thanks to openers David Fisher (54) and Andy Griffiths (43).

Ian Dickinson then added 36 but it was his departure, caught by Steve Leach off Mike Barnard (2-23), which changed the course of the game.

It was the cue for Shrewsbury, roared on by a vocal band of supporters watching from the pavilion balcony, to produce a grandstand finish.

Steve Barnard (1-25), fittingly, bowled the final over and held his nerve, his pace too much for the visiting batsmen to get away.

“Steve was probably the difference in the game,” added Foster. “His death bowling and his knock were superb.

“He’s really stepped up this year and has gone to another level which is really good to see.

“Our team included seven lads who have been in the second team at times this season but they all stepped up. The quality is there throughout for the club and it’s a great feeling to have everyone included and to keep winning.”

Foster’s men are now relishing their last eight tie against Nottingham-based West Indian Cavaliers at London Road on Sunday, August 4 with the visitors able to call on former Notts stars Usman Afzaal and Bilal Shafayat, until recently Shropshire’s pro.

Shrewsbury memorably beat star-studded Cavaliers on their way to becoming national champs in 2011.

Joe Leach

Leach brothers set up Wombourne victory

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

WOMBOURNE felt the full force of a Joe Leach masterclass as he and brother Steve both cracked fine centuries to send Shrewsbury 19 points clear at the top of the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division.

Allrounder Joe, hoping to become a Worcestershire regular, enhanced his claims with another dazzling display with bat and ball as Shrewsbury romped to a convincing 157 run victory at the top flight’s bottom club.

Leach’s efforts were quickly rewarded as he was handed his Friends Life Twenty20 debut for the Pears the next day as he helped them beat Gloucestershire at New Road.

The runaway win sets Shrewsbury up perfectly for this weekend’s huge double header which sees them face two big games at London Road.

They host second-placed Kidderminster Victoria in the league on Saturday before welcoming Chorley in the last 16 of the ECB National Club Championship 24 hours later.

“Last weekend was probably as good as it gets,” said delighted Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster. “We were very good with the bat and followed it up with the ball.”

Joe hammered a whirlwind 131 and younger brother Steve carried his bat for an unbeaten 108, the siblings putting on 183 for the third wicket.

Skipper Foster also got in on the act with a rapid unbeaten half century, hammering 62 not out from just 30 balls, as Shrewsbury scored freely to rack up an imposing 340-3 from their 55 overs.

It was a stunning response from the London Roaders who were 63-2 at one stage having lost opener Ed Foster for four and Tom Cox for 23.

“Steve anchored the innings which is what we wanted after the last couple of weeks when we’ve lost early wickets,” said captain Foster. “He played very well and batted sensibly.

“That allowed Joe the freedom to come in and bat the way he did. He was outstanding again for us.”

Joe faced 97 balls for his 131, his top score for the club, as he struck five sixes and no fewer than 18 boundaries.

Steve, who also hopes to break through at Worcestershire, compiled his 108 from 151 deliveries, hitting 11 fours and two sixes as he reached three figures for the second time this summer.

Wombourne were then blown away for 183 with ultra consistent spinner Elliot Green taking 4-38 after strong opening spells from Joe Leach (2-23) and Steve Barnard (2-54).

Tom Meek hit a defiant 55 and Worcestershire’s Richard Jones made 31 but the Shrewsbury attack were always in control.

“Having Elliot in the side is great for a captain as he’s always going to take wickets,” said Foster. “Joe and Steve started it off by bowling really well to have them at 31-3.

“It was a very good all round performance.”