James Taylor

Taylor can’t prevent 1st XI slipping to third defeat

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

NOT even the presence of England batsman James Taylor for the first time this season could prevent Shrewsbury from being edged out in the last over of a tight clash at Berkswell.

Taylor, the London Road club’s high profile contracted player, made himself available after captaining Nottinghamshire Outlaws to victory over Lancashire Lightning in their T20 Blast opener at Trent Bridge the night before.

But the former Shrewsbury School run machine perished for 24 as the county towners were beaten by three wickets with just two balls to spare by a Berkswell side which handed a debut to former Pakistan international Tanvir Ahmed.

It was a third defeat in four Birmingham League premier division games this season for Shrewsbury who are bottom of the table ahead of hitting the road again on Saturday when they travel to Himley.

Shrewsbury opener Ed Foster said: “It’s fine margins in this 50 over win-lose format and we might have won two of the games we’ve lost at Brockhampton and now Berkswell.

“We know the problems we are making and we have to put them right. Our fielding probably cost us 20 or 30 runs. It was neck and neck for the last 10 overs but we’re learning the hard way at the moment.”

Shrewsbury opted to bat first and rattled up 217-7 from their 50 overs.

Opener Foster top scored with 48 while there were also decent contributions from Australian debutant Patrick Butler (47no), skipper Foster (40), Tom Cox (37) and No 3 Taylor (24).

Berkswell timed their chase to prefection to eventually scramble past the winning post at 218-7 with two balls to spare.

Nick James held the innings together with an unbeaten 53 and captain Dominic Ostler, the former Warwickshire stalwart, added 41.

Import Ahmed, though, managed just six before being caught by Sam Griffiths off the bowling of Elliot Green who claimed 3-28.

There were also wickets for Charlie Morris (2-38) and newcomer Butler (2-43) as Shrewsbury were edged out in a tight finish.

Foster reserved special praise for teenage newcomer Butler who batted well at No 6 and also bowled tidily with his leg spin as he helped peg Berkswell back after a flying start.

Foster added Shrewsbury were also delighted to be able to include Nottinghamshire star Taylor in their side.

“It’s always good to see Jimmy and it’s great he had the desire to want to come and play for us after being on the field for Notts the previous night,” he stressed.

“You could tell it’s Twenty20 season the way he played and he hit a couple of sixes in his 24. He always brings a lot to the team when he’s available.”

Meanwhile, SHREWSBURY II will hope Saturday’s home game against Himley II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division will bring about a change in fortunes.

The London Road second string were well beaten by 101 runs by Leamington Spa II last weekend. Shrewsbury laboured to 148-9 in reply to the visitors’ 249-6.

James Codling (33), William Davies (27), Jon Anders (25no) and Dan Manders (23) chipped in with the bat, while Shrewsbury’s best bowlers were Tom Somerville (3-39) and Manders (2-48).

James Taylor

Taylor set for seasonal bow

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

England batsman Jimmy Taylor is pencilled in to make his first Birmingham League appearance of the season for Shrewsbury at Berkswell on Saturday.

The Nottinghamshire star, the club’s high profile contracted player, contacted captain Rob Foster earlier this week to declare his availability.

Taylor takes his place in a strong 12-man squad also bolstered by the return of opener Ed Foster and Steve Barnard.

Alex Blofield is ruled out through unavailability while Dan Manders, a late call up for last Saturday’s opening premier division win of the season against Dorridge, also drops out.

“Jimmy texted me to say ‘pencil me in for Saturday’ as Nottinghamshire don’t have a game,” said skipper Foster.

“It depends on other commitments and if something else crops up between now and Saturday, but hopefully he will play and it’s always great to have him about.

“It gives everyone a big lift knowing you’ve got someone like Jimmy in your side.”

Taylor, now one-day captain at Trent Bridge, played for Shrewsbury for half a season when he was a pupil at Shrewsbury School and has always kept in touch with the club.

He has been contracted player for the last three seasons but his availability has understandably been limited by his busy itinerary in first class cricket.

Foster, meanwhile, hopes Shrewsbury can now put a run together to lift them up the premier division table after the heroics of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach, who hit 144, propelled them to a convincing victory over Dorridge.

“We need to string a few wins together to get us back in touch,” he said. “But we know it will be a very tough game at Berkswell who are led by Dominic Ostler, a former Warwickshire player, and have some good players like the former England batsman Darren Maddy.”

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

Joe Leach

Leach brothers power Shrewsbury to victory

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Joe Leach cracked a brilliant century as champions Shrewsbury hammered Dorridge in the Birmingham League – but a day later they were knocked out of the ECB National Club Championship following a shock defeat at neighbours Reman Services.

It made for a decidedly mixed weekend for Shrewsbury although skipper Rob Foster, one of a number of regulars who missed the game which Reman won by 66 runs owing to Shropshire commitments, was quick to congratulate the Albert Roaders.

“We had a lot of players missing but you can’t really make that an excuse,” said Foster. “That’s just the way it is and all credit to Reman on the result. It’s disappointing for us to be knocked out but it was not too unexpected.”

Shrewsbury made eight changes from the team which beat Dorridge 24 hours earlier for the short second round KO trip to county town neighbours Reman owing mainly to Shropshire’s ultimately washed out Unicorns Trophy tie at Northumberland.

But Reman made light of their underdogs tag – they play four divisions lower than Shrewsbury – to pull off a hugely impressive victory on a soggy Sunday afternoon.

Reman batted first and racked up a useful 232-6 from their 45 overs. Captain Ed Ashlin set the standards with 86 from 134 balls while he was well backed up by Jamie Wear (48) and Dominic Bradburne (43no). Dan Manders (3-52) was the pick of the Shrewsbury attack.

The visitors’ reply was always likely to hinge on stand-in skipper Steve Leach and he had to watch early wickets fall around him as Aussie Mal Serplet (4-41) made inroads.

Leach did his best to stem the tide before edging a Shane Gwilt delivery to wicketkeeper Matt Morris for 32 and Shrewsbury were in real trouble.

Dewi Jones (28) and Greg Wassell (25) offered some resistance, but this was most certainly Reman’s day with Garry Williams (2-30) also playing his part with the ball.

Shrewsbury started last weekend in the unusual position of bottom place in the Birmingham League premier division after opening the campaign with back-to-back league defeats.

But normal service was swiftly resumed as Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach shared in a stunning 235 run second-wicket stand, a new club record, with his younger brother Steve.

It paved the way for Shrewsbury, who travel to Berkswell on Saturday, to cruise to a 120 run victory over Dorridge at they successfully dodged the showers.

“We were just pleased to get our first league win of the season,” said captain Foster. “Full credit to Joe Leach as the way he played was outstanding and Steve supported him really well.

“It was a fantastic achievement by those two to put on a new Birmingham League record stand for the club.”

Shrewsbury quickly lost makeshift opener Alex Blofield, deputising for the unavailable Ed Foster, but that only served to bring together the Leach brothers and they batted the hosts into a powerful position.

Joe led the way with a stunning 144 off 126 balls, a sparkling knock featuring four big sixes and a dozen boundaries.

Oxford University batsman Steve offered fine support and also looked set for three figures before perishing for 88 from 114 deliveries, hitting eight fours.

Shrewsbury eventually posted a competitive 283-5 from their reduced allocation of 46 overs.

The spinners then turned the screw with the ball for the home side as Dorridge, set a revised target after losing four more overs to rain, pulled up well short, closing on 169-9 to hand Shrewsbury maximum points under the current straight win-lose format.

Charlie Morris, a recent signing from Oswestry, snared 3-22 while there was also some joy for Elliot Green (2-36) and Blofield (2-38).

“All the bowlers played their part,” added Foster. “Dorridge never looked like getting close to our total at any point.”

Meanwhile, there was more frustration for SHREWSBURY II as they were hit with a second abandonment of the season in three weeks.

Their trip to Old Hill II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division was a victim of the weather so skipper Jon Anders will hope for better luck with the elements at home to Leamington II on Saturday.

Shrewsbury Cricket Club

Blofield returns as Shrewsbury seek win

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

It’s not been the start to the season Birmingham Cricket League champions Shrewsbury wanted, but captain Rob Foster insists no-one at London Road is pressing the panic button ahead of Saturday’s visit of Dorridge.

Shrewsbury have been beaten in both of their premier division games this term, tasting defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Dartmouth and then Brockhampton.

They are without two of their regulars this weekend as opening batsman Ed Foster is an usher at a friend’s wedding while Steve Barnard is ruled out through university commitments.

Alex Blofield and county paceman Mike Barnard, making his first appearance of the season, are pencilled in as replacements.

Skipper Foster detected some plus points in last weekend’s three-wicket reverse and hopes it will be a case of third time lucky as Shrewsbury get ready to host top-flight newcomers Dorridge (noon).

“There’s definitely no panic,” said Foster. “You don’t become a bad team overnight.

“We’ve got great players and it’s just a case of someone needing to put a great performance in.

“No-one’s quite done it yet, got a big score or taken some wickets to win us a game, which will bring our confidence back up and get us buzzing again.

“But the win a young team pulled off in the National KO at Penkridge last Sunday will help as that was a fantastic effort.

“Going into Dorridge, I feel that we’re getting back towards the cricket we can play. I don’t know why but it’s been a strange start to the season, but hopefully come Saturday we’ll be ready to give a good performance.”

Shrewsbury will be forced to ring the changes once again for Sunday’s local derby at town rivals Reman Services in the second round of the ECB National Club Championship (1pm) owing to Shropshire call ups.

Rob Foster, Ed Foster, Tom Cox, Anthony Parker, Alex Blofield and Sam Griffiths, who will be making his county debut, are all in the Shropshire team to take on Northumberland at Newcastle in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

The all county town clash is one that both teams will be eagerly awaiting as Reman go in search of a shock win against Shrewsbury who play four divisions higher.

“Shrewsbury have got quality players throughout the club,” said Reman’s experienced bowler Shane Gwilt. “It’s a great challenge for us and it’s a game we’re really looking forward to. We’ll give it our best shot and see where it takes us.

“I think it’s a great game for the town as playing Shrewsbury was always the derby for us. They’ve obviously since gone on to great heights and are now four divisions higher but it will be nice to see a few familiar faces.”

Shrewsbury captain Foster added: “The last time I played Reman I was about 18 and I think they beat us in a knockout match.

“We’ll be hampered again by Shropshire unavailability but it’s always nice to play a local fixture and I’m sure Reman will be looking forward to it.

“They’re a good set of lads down there and I know Ed Ashlin, the captain, quite well. He’s a good lad. I’m sure it will be good fun for both sides.

“There’s local bragging rights, I suppose. We would love to beat Reman and they would love to beat us.”

SHREWSBURY (v Dorridge): S Leach, T Cox, J Leach, R Foster, A Blofield, A Parker, D Jones, M Barnard, E Green, C Morris, S Griffiths.

Super Sam’s seven sets up Reman clash

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Captain Rob Foster is confident Shrewsbury’s Birmingham League fortunes will soon pick up despite a disappointing start to the defence of their premier division title.

Shrewsbury have lost both of their opening league games with a heavy first day defeat against West Bromwich Dartmouth followed by a closer three-wicket reverse at Brockhampton last weekend.

But there was some welcome cheer for the London Roaders as a heavily depleted side featuring a host of youngsters and just two first teamers won by 57 runs at Penkridge in the first round of the ECB National Club Championship on Sunday.

Sam Griffiths was the hero with a stunning seven-wicket haul to set up an eagerly awaited second round clash against county town neighbours Reman Services from the Shropshire County Cricket League at Albert Road on Sunday.

But Foster is now keen that his team deliver an opening league win of the season at home to Dorridge on Saturday (noon).
Shrewsbury were invited to bat first at Brockhampton and were dismissed for 196 in the 50th over.

Opener Steve Leach top scored with 53 from 69 balls, cracking 10 boundaries in the process, but the only other notable contributors were skipper Foster (36) and Ed Foster (25).

It looked like it might still be a big enough total when Brock stumbled to 127-7, but Herefordshire batsman Ben Stebbings, who ended unbeaten on 91, dominated an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 70 to lead the hosts to 197-7.

There were two wickets apiece for Dewi Jones (2-28), Elliot Green (2-34) and Charlie Morris (2-47) but it was not enough to prevent Shrewsbury from losing a second successive defeat.

Foster said: “It was still disappointing to lose but on reflection there were a lot more positives with our cricket than the week previously.

“Steve Leach played well for his 50 and the two spinners Charlie Morris and Elliot Green bowled very well.

“We just let it slip at a key period. They were 130-7 and we really should have sealed the game off then and won it.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t quite drive it home, but their captain (Stebbings) played a fantastic knock.

“He guested for us last year in the Salop Leisure Twenty20. He’s a good friend of Mike Barnard’s as they were at university together and he gets on well with everyone at the club.

“We missed a few chances at key moments and we’re just a little bit off from being more competitive. We should have put a few more on the board which probably would have taken the game out of their reach.”

Foster was one of five Shrewsbury players on Shropshire duty on Sunday but was delighted to hear a patched up team claimed an impressive 57 run KO victory at Penkridge.

William Davies top scored with 46 while George Hargrave (30), stand-in captain Steve Leach (23) and Henry Rose (21) helped push the score up to 146.

Former Shelton paceman Griffiths then grabbed 7-51 and there was a couple of wickets for Alex Johnson (2-35) as the hosts were skittled for 89 inside 16 overs, with former Shropshire all-rounder Attiq Chisti left stranded on 41 not out.

Meanwhile, a half century from captain Jon Anders was unable to save SHREWSBURY II from a 17 run defeat at home to Brockhampton II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division.

Shrewsbury, who travel to Old Hill II on Saturday, pulled up just short on 219-9 in reply to the visitors’ 236-9.

Rob Foster

Foster urges Shrewsbury to bounce back

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Rob Foster has stressed the importance of Shrewsbury’s cricketers quickly putting the disappointment of their shock opening day defeat firmly behind them.

Shrewsbury, runaway Birmingham League premier division champions last season, were bowled out for just 83 as they went down by eight wickets to West Bromwich Dartmouth at London Road.

Foster said it was one of the worst performances he has been involved in for some time and now he wants his team to respond the right way as they prepare for Saturday’s tricky trip to Herefordshire to take on Brockhampton.

“If you’re going to have a disappointing day, it’s probably best to get it out of the way on the first day,” said Foster. “Brockhampton finished second last year and started off with a good win so we know it will be a tough game on Saturday.

“We also got thrashed there last year but these early games can give you a lot of momentum and we need to put in a much better performance.

“If we had scored 120, 140 last weekend it gives you something to bowl at, but that wasn’t the case after being bowled out for 83.”

Shrewsbury will be forced to make one enforced change as Shrewsbury School commitments rule out England under-19 star Ed Barnard, but county all-rounder Alex Blofield makes a timely return.

“While it’s disappointing to lose Ed, we never expected to see much of him in the first half of the season,” added Foster. “I didn’t actually expect him to be available last weekend.”

Shrewsbury then travel to Penkridge for their delayed ECB National Club Championship first round tie on Sunday. The match was called off last weekend as the pitch was too wet.

A Shrewsbury victory would set up an exciting second round showdown against town neighbours Reman Services, impressive four-wicket winners at Moddershall last weekend.

But Shrewsbury will need to ring the changes as they are missing five players who have been called up by Shropshire for their opening Unicorns Knockout Trophy tie against Lincolnshire at London Road on Sunday (11am).

Skipper Foster, his brother Ed, Tom Cox, Anthony Parker and Elliot Green have all been selected for the county who were beaten finalists in the one-day competition last season.

SHREWSBURY (v Brockhampton): E Foster, S Leach, T Cox, J Leach, R Foster, A Parker, A Blofield, S Barnard, S Griffiths, E Green, D Jones.

Shrewsbury Cricket Club

1st XI crash in league opener

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Skipper Rob Foster admitted it was the worst possible start to the season imaginable as Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury slumped to a shock eight-wicket defeat at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth.

Shrewsbury had beaten the same side away from home in the Graham Williamson Trophy a fortnight earlier but any hopes of a repeat were dashed after the London Roaders, invited to bat first, were skittled for just 83.

“It was as disappointing start as you could get,” said Foster. “It was certainly one of the worst performances I’ve been involved in for a long time.

“The first ball of the two innings really summed it up. We lost Ed (Foster) in ours but in theirs we dropped Kadeer Ali.

“The pitch didn’t help as it was slow and difficult but we didn’t adapt and didn’t apply ourselves as we should have.

“We were all dejected afterwards with how it went and now we have to bounce back at Brockhampton on Saturday.”

Shrewsbury could have been excused for fearing it was going to be one of those days when free-scoring opener Ed Foster was bowled off the very first ball of the match by Zeeshan Arif.

Steve Leach (2), Ed Barnard (11) and Tom Cox (1) quickly followed him back to the pavilion to leave Shrewsbury in serious trouble at 25-4.

Skipper Rob Foster (18) and Joe Leach (16) briefly threatened to lead a revival – their stand of 31 comfortably the highest in the innings – but then the wheels came off once more with the champions dismissed for just 83 inside 33 testing overs.

West Bromwich, in reply, had no such problems with openers Basit Zaman (31no) and former Gloucestershire batsman Kadeer Ali (30) laying solid foundations as the visitors cruised to 84-2.

The only successful bowler was spinner Elliot Green (2-19) but this was very much a day to forget for the county towners.

They had hoped to hit back at Penkridge in the first round of the National Knockout the following day but the match fell victim to a waterlogged pitch and will now take place on Sunday.

Shrewsbury will have to field a much depleted side owing to a host of Shropshire call ups for the Unicorns Trophy Knockout tie against Lincolnshire at London Road.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury’s second team had a wasted trip to Harborne II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division with the match washed out without a ball bowled.

They will hope to open their season with a London Road clash against Brockhampton II on Saturday.