By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
Ed Foster showed his versatility and Elliot Green helped himself to a fine hat-trick as Shrewsbury impressively gained a winning draw over a Berkswell side striving to succeed them as Birmingham League champions.
Foster started as wicketkeeper in the absence of Anthony Parker and then grabbed three wickets before top scoring with an excellent 87 as Shrewsbury just about reached their revised winning draw target to pick up 14 welcome points.
Spinner Green, having earlier taken three wickets in as many balls during an eye-catching five-wicket haul, hit the very last ball of the game for a boundary to ensure Shrewsbury gained the upper hand against a Berkswell side packed with first class experience.
Darren Maddy, the former Warwickshire and England star, was the biggest name in the opposition ranks with Berkswell, led by captain Dominic Ostler, another former Edgbaston stalwart, also able to field former Leicestershire bowler David Brignull and Nick James, an ex-Glamorgan and Warwickshire player.
Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster was delighted with his side’s efforts as they moved 29 points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s home clash with basement boys Himley.
“Berkswell are a very strong side,” said Foster. “They’re a bit of a who’s who of first class cricket so it was pleasing that we managed to play so well. I thought the result reflected our performance.”
Berkswell, stuck in, totalled 216-9 from their 55 overs with opener James Neale hitting 50 and Tom Lewis, a regular for Warwickshire’s second team, adding 37.
Green got rid of the two stand-out names in the Berkswell side, with Ostler impressively stumped by Ed Foster off the spinner for 30, and Maddy caught behind behind by Foster for 26.
It helped Green, no stranger to taking hat-tricks, to a return of 5-64 while Foster, in between his tidy display behind the stumps which saw him take three catches in all and complete two stumpings, also took the chance to bowl 11 overs for 3-48.
“Elliot took a bit of punishment in his first three or four overs,” said captain Foster. “But he came back strongly and bowled very well to take five wickets.
“Ed was the fourth seamer so I thought we would give him a few overs and see how he went and he did well. I kept wicket when he bowled, probably the first time I’ve done it for the first team.”
Shrewsbury, in reply, were going nicely at 101-1 but the departure of skipper Foster for 31 after he put on 72 for the second wicket with his brother Ed sparked a collapse to 119-4 and later 139-6.
Opener Foster, enjoying a rich vein of form, continued to close in on a century until he was stumped off Maddy (3-66) for an impressive 87 from 117 balls.
James (4-47) was also among the wickets for Berkswell but Green kept his cool to end 19 not out as he dispatched the final ball of the match to the boundary to ensure Shrewsbury emerged with the lion’s share of the points.
Meanwhile, Shrewsbury’s 2nd XI had a wasted trip to Leamington II in the Birmingham League premier division as the match was abandoned without a ball bowled.
Shrewsbury’s second string hit the road again on Saturday, this time to Himley II.