By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
Skipper Rob Foster insists George Panayi’s first call up to the England under-17 squad has come as no surprise to anyone at Shrewsbury Cricket Club.
Fast bowler Panayi, a student at Shrewsbury School, has been selected for the young England tour to Dubai in February to play against Pakistan’s under-17s.
Foster predicts a bright future for Panayi, who played plenty of second team cricket for Shrewsbury last summer, while he was also given a taste of first team action in the Birmingham League’s premier division.
The captain reckons Panayi, 17, will be pushing for a regular first team place at London Road next summer, particularly as Shrewsbury have lost the services of another promising paceman in Dewi Jones.
Jones has been told he must now play his club cricket in South Wales after signing a contract with Glamorgan, for whom he made his first-class debut against Middlesex in July while he was a Shrewsbury player.
Panayi, also a member of the Warwickshire CCC Academy, hails from Hertfordshire but opted to play his club cricket for Shrewsbury owing to the close relationship the club enjoy with Shrewsbury School.
“He’s a hugely exciting cricketer,” said Foster. “He played a few league games for the first team last year and has also played some knockout games.
“He’s a very quick bowler for his age and he’s got a very good skill set in that he can bowl yorkers and bouncers. He’s also a useful batsman so he’s a very good all round cricketer and nothing really fazes him.
“I would imagine when he’s free of Shrewsbury School commitments next summer that he will be banging down the door to be involved with our first team.”
Foster added Shrewsbury were disappointed to lose Jones after a single season but completely understood the reasons behind his departure and that they wished him well in his pursuit of a successful career in first-class cricket with Glamorgan.
“Obviously, Glamorgan have strong ties with the Welsh clubs and having given Dewi a contract, they want him to be with a club down there,” said Foster.
“It’s a shame to have lost him but it’s for good reasons as Dewi is doing well with Glamorgan.
“He really enjoyed the time he spent at Shrewsbury and took wickets and also contributed with the bat down the order.”
Meanwhile, Andy Barnard, the master in charge of cricket at Shrewsbury School, said Panayi’s international recognition was richly deserved.
“George has worked hard and long for this exciting selection,” said Barnard. “He becomes Shrewsbury School’s fifth national age group selection in the last ten years.”
Current Shrewsbury first teamer Ed Barnard, who also plays for Worcestershire, represented England under-19s in the last two years.
Rhuadri Smith, now with Glamorgan, played for Scotland under-19s in 2012/13.
Going further back, James Taylor, who is still attached to Shrewsbury CC, played for England U17s during his Shrewsbury School days in 2007 and also the under-19s in 2009.
Taylor is currently playing for the senior England One Day International team in Sri Lanka and top scored with 90 in last Sunday’s six-wicket defeat, his first appearance of the tour.
Scott Ellis also represented Shrewsbury School with disctinction when he played for England’s under-19s in 1994.
Barnard added: “Having narrowly missed out on selection for the Bunbury Festival two years ago, George’s outstanding performances at Shrewsbury School, where he was the leading all-rounder last season, and for Warwickshire CCC and Shrewsbury CC have promoted him into national selection.
“The hard work carried out with Paul Pridgeon, the School’s cricket professional, has helped develop George’s game and effectiveness on the pitch.”
Panayi is currently on tour in the United Arab Emirates with Shrewsbury School.
“The trip will be excellent preparation for his upcoming matches against Pakistan under-17s, one of the strongest age group teams in the world,” stressed Barnard.