Rob Foster collects the Birmingham League trophy in 2013

Captain Foster targets Birmingham League defence

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Upbeat Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster insists successfully defending their Birmingham Cricket League premier division title is the club’s target this season.

Shrewsbury, who have again secured the services of Nottinghamshire and England batsman Jimmy Taylor as the club’s contracted player, open their league season at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday.

The London Roaders were runaway champions last year, racking up a record points total, and Foster wants his team to pick up where they left off.

Shrewsbury have signalled their intentions by pulling off excellent victories in the past fortnight over West Bromwich Dartmouth and Knowle & Dorridge in the Graham Williamson Trophy to ensure they should hit the ground running.

Foster said: “We want to win the league again, I’m not too shy to say that, and good sides win titles back-to-back.”Wellington did that probably 10 years ago and we would very much like to do the same.

“We know we will be there to be shot at but a lot of teams will not relish coming to play us.

“I think we got a lot of respect from other teams in the league over how we played last season and went about winning matches so we’re all raring to go again and looking forward to it.”

Shrewsbury will make one change from the side which impressively beat K&D in the Trophy last weekend with Elliot Green replacing fellow spinner Charlie Morris.

Glamorgan Academy player Dewi Jones, a fast bowler, will make his league debut for the club against a West Brom side likely to include former Gloucestershire batsman Kadeer Ali and also potentially current Warwickshire first teamer Ateeq Javid.

Foster added he was delighted that Nottinghamshire star Taylor, the free-scoring former Shrewsbury School pupil, has again agreed to be the club’s contracted player.

Taylor, the one-day captain for the Trent Bridge club, was among the crowd for Shrewsbury’s victory last weekend and is a popular figure at London Road.

Foster said: “When we see Jimmy it’s a bonus and having an England cricketer at the club is always great.

“Hopefully he will get a chance to play for England again this season and he couldn’t have done much more over the winter with the runs he scored for England Lions.

“Jimmy says he will play for us when he gets the chance so hopefully we’ll get him in for a few games.”

Shrewsbury are also in action on Sunday whey they travel to ambitious Penkridge in the first round of the National KO, a competition the county towners have memorably won twice.

Foster added he expects a tricky game against a Penkridge side expected to include former Shropshire all-rounder Attiq Chisti.

SHREWSBURY (v West Bromwich Dartmouth): S Leach, E Foster, E Barnard, J Leach, T Cox, R Foster (captain), A Parker, S Barnard, S Griffiths, E Green, D Jones.

1st XI pass Knowle and Dorridge test

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY are looking good ahead of the start of their Birmingham League premier division title defence this weekend after another impressive victory in the Graham Williamson Trophy.

Having won at top-flight rivals West Bromwich Dartmouth a week earlier, Shrewsbury, who have won this comeptition four years in a row, claimed another eye-catching result last weekend by beating much fancied Knowle & Dorridge by 16 runs.

“It was good to pick up another win,” said captain Rob Foster. “We probably weren’t at our best for large parts in the field but it was good to put down a marker against a good side which finished third in the league last season.”

The success was built around an excellent 132 run stand for the second wicket between Ed Foster and Ed Barnard.

Shrewsbury, invited to bat first, lost Oxford University batsman Steve Leach in the infancy of their innings for three.

That brought Foster and Barnard together in the middle and they batted the London Roaders into a strong position.

Foster, on his first club appearance of the season, led the way with a polished 81 as he built on the splendid 118 he hit for Shropshire in a friendly against Staffordshire the previous Sunday.

Foster cracked eight fours and two sixes off 81 balls and together with teenager Barnard he really took the game to K&D.

England under-19 ace Barnard, the star of the show in making 98 in the first round win at West Bromwich, was once again in good touch in hitting 49 from 74 deliveries as Shrewsbury racked up 185-8 from their 40 overs.

Shrewsbury could not have hoped for a better start with the ball with the club’s Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach trapping Australian opener Michael Hill leg before with the very first ball of the innings.

Hill is a regular for Victoria Down Under and renowned as a dangerous, big-hitting batsman but he had no chance to show what he can do.

Former Shelton man Sam Griffiths then also picked up a key lbw decision, removing Warwickshire’s Paul Best for 20 to make it advantage Shrewsbury.

Opener Alex Phillips dug in to make 53 but the visitors pulled up short of their target on 169-8.

Leach took 2-20 from eight tight overs and Steve Barnard claimed 2-35 to leave Shrewsbury eagerly awaiting Saturday’s opening league game of the season at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth.

Captain Foster added: “The two Eds batted very well to put us in a good position. Joe Leach then bowled fantastically well and some of Knowle’s top players couldn’t lay a bat on him.

“This is a good competition for us. They are always good competitive warm up games and now we’re raring to go for the league season.”

Shrewsbury will now take on Kidderminster Victoria in the semi finals of the Graham Williamson Trophy on Sunday, May 4.

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Rob Foster

Several changes ahead of Knowle and Dorridge visit

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury wheel out the big guns for Saturday’s Graham Williamson Trophy second round tie at home to much fancied Knowle & Dorridge (12.30pm).

Skipper Rob Foster together with fellow regulars Ed Foster, Steve Leach, Steve Barnard and Sam Griffiths all return after missing last weekend’s first round win at West Bromwich Dartmouth in which England under-19 prospect Ed Barnard shone.

All-rounder Alex Blofield, one of the club’s many Shropshire regulars, is unavailable.

The match with K&D will be Shrewsbury’s last ahead of beginning the defence of their Birmingham League premier division at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth a week on Saturday, April 26.

“Knowle & Dorridge finished third last year and they’ve strengthened over the winter,” said Shrewsbury skipper Foster. “They’ve brought in Michael Hill, an Australian from Victoria who recently played in the Big Bash as their overseas player.

“He’s a dangerous player, a batsman, who likes to give it a whack, and they’ve also signed Warwickshire’s Paul Best, another good player.

“It’s as tough a test we could have early season and it will be a good marker for both teams to see where we’re at.”

Foster added he was delighted by teenager Barnard’s fine start to the season with his polished knock of 98 laying the foundations for last weekend’s victory.

“It’s no surprise to see Ed get a score like that,” he said. “It’s his biggest score for the first team so far but he’s already experienced playing at such a high level with England’s under-19s.”

Foster’s older brother, Ed, was quickly back in the groove, too, cracking 118 at the top of the order for Shropshire in last Sunday’s warm up win over Staffordshire at Shifnal.

SHREWSBURY, from: S Leach, E Foster, E Barnard, J Leach, T Cox, R Foster, A Parker, S Barnard, C Morris, E Green, S Griffiths, D Jones, G Hargrave.

Ed Barnard

Ed Barnard hits form in season opener

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Ed Barnard produced the form which has made him a regular in the England under-19 side as Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury opened the new season with an excellent Graham Williamson Trophy win at West Bromwich Dartmouth.

Barnard, 18, fell just two runs short of a richly deserved century as Shrewsbury, winners of this competition for the last four years, chased impressively to seal a five-wicket verdict with a ball to spare.

Shrewsbury’s reward is a second round tie at home to Knowle & Dorridge at London Road on Saturday.

Barnard looked just like a man who has played regularly over the winter, most notably in the United Arab Emirates where he was ever present for England in the ICC under-19 World Cup as they eventually beat Australia in the third-place play-off match.

Set 207 for victory in 40 overs, Barnard came in first wicket down after young opener George Hargrave fell early.

He proceeded to put on 130 for the second wicket with stand-in captain Tom Cox, deputising for the unavailable Rob Foster, as Shrewsbury set about their chase with relish.

Cox, promoted to opener as Ed Foster and Steve Leach were also unavailable, played well to make 68 from 89 balls, hitting a six and seven fours.

And he kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely with star turn Barnard who plundered 98 from 110 deliveries, a sparkling knock from the Worcestershire prospect which featured two sixes and eight boundaries.

Alex Blofield (17no) and Elliot Green then held their nerve to see the job through as Shrewsbury timed their chase to perfection.

Cox had earlier allowed West Bromwich Dartmouth to bat first and the hosts rattled up 206-4 from their 40 overs which was built around steady contributions from Brinder Phagura (58), Rawlston Tappin (55) and Ruki de Silva (44).

Spinner Blofield claimed 2-68 while there was also a wicket apiece for new signings Charlie Morris (1-30) and Dewi Jones (1-31) from tighter eight over spells.

Shrewsbury’s strength in depth really shone through as the Foster brothers and Steve Leach were joined on the unavailable list by Steve and Mike Barnard.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury opener Ed Foster was in brilliant touch as he hit a fine century to help Shropshire claim victory by 35 runs over Staffordshire in last Sunday’s pre-season friendly at Shifnal.

Foster’s first knock of the season could not have gone much better as he made 118 from 137 balls, cracking 13 boundaries and a six.

Other contributions from his Shrewsbury team mates Joe Leach (46) and Rob Foster (29no) plus a quickfire, unbeaten 26 from skipper Richard Oliver down the order pushed the Shropshire total up to 274-6 from 50 overs.

Staffordshire were then restricted to 239-8 as Foster followed up his century by taking two wickets, as did Ben Sanderson and Jack Edwards.

Shropshire play their first competitive match of the season at Shrewsbury’s London Road ground on Sunday, May 4 when Lincolnshire provide the opposition in the first group game of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

Shrewsbury Cricket Club

Jones and Morris to make debuts in opening weekend

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

NEW signing Dewi Jones goes straight into the Shrewsbury side as the Birmingham Cricket League champions open the new season with a Graham Williamson Trophy first round trip to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday.

“Dewi’s played a lot of games for Glamorgan’s Academy and for Wales in the Minor Counties and has always impressed when we’ve played against him,” said Rob Foster.

“He’s Wrexham-based and was keen to come and play for us. It’s always nice that people want to come and get involved.

“He’s rated very highly at Glamorgan and he fits the mould for us of being a young and keen player.”

Jones is the second close season recruit for Shrewsbury and the other, Charlie Morris, a left-arm spinner from Oswestry, is also in Saturday’s team as Shrewsbury hope to maintain their dominance of the Graham Williamson Trophy having won this competition for the last four years.

Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach and Ed Barnard, recently part of the England under-19 team which finished third in the ICC World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, also feature this weekend in a team which will be captained by Tom Cox.

Skipper Foster and his older brother Ed are both unavailable as they are guests at a family wedding while Sam Griffiths is also ruled out through his brother’s wedding.

Steve and Mike Barnard are also missing this weekend, as is opening batsman Steve Leach, earlier this week part of the Oxfordshire University side which took on a Warwickshire team featuring England batsman Jonathan Trott in a rain-ravaged clash at The Parks which ended in a draw.

The free-scoring Leach, who left Worcestershire midway through last summer, made his first class debut the previous week against Nottinghamshire.

SHREWSBURY: Tom Cox (captain), Joe Leach, Henry Blofield, Alex Blofield, Charlie Morris, Dewi Jones, Elliot Green, Ed Barnard, George Hargrave, Anthony Parker, Tom Ellis.

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