By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
SHREWSBURY are boosted by the return of captain Rob Foster for Saturday’s home clash with Brockhampton in the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division as the club’s exciting teenager Ed Barnard celebrates another England under-19 call up.
Foster was unavailable for last weekend’s eight-wicket defeat at leaders West Bromwich Dartmouth, a result which leaves the London Roaders languishing in eighth place in the top-flight table.
A second-wicket partnership of 135 between former Gloucestershire batsman Kadeer Ali and current Warwickshire regular Ateeq Javid sentenced Shrewsbury to a heavy reverse after opener Steve Leach carried his bat for an unbeaten 77 for the county towners.
But the skipper is back for Saturday and takes his place in a 12-man Shrewsbury squad featuring Worcestershire prospect Barnard who has been called up for England’s two Test series against South Africa later this summer.
Barnard helped England to a third-placed finish in the under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.
The opening Test against the young Springboks is at Cambridge ground Fenners starting on August 1 before the second Test begins at Northamptonshire CCC from August 7.
The young Lions will also face Yorkshire’s under-19s in a warm up game at Sleaford on July 29.
Meanwhile, Ed Foster, Shrewsbury’s consistent batsman, has now urged his side to finish strongly over the final 10 games of the season as they look to climb the table, starting with Saturday’s visit of fourth-placed Brockhampton.
“Brockhampton are a strong side, a dangerous side, with a lot of experienced league cricketers and Herefordshire players,” said Foster.
“We had a very close away game against them earlier in the season when we lost off the last ball of the match.
“In some ways that’s been the story of our season as we’ve had quite a few close games and not quite won enough of them.”
Shrewsbury are waiting on the availability of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach before finalising their side.
There’s also cricket at London Road tomorrow night (Friday, 6.15pm start) with Shrewsbury, the holders, meeting Whitchurch in the second semi-final of the Salop Leisure T20 KO Trophy.
The victors will take on Oswestry, four-wicket winners over Shifnal in the opening last four clash last Friday night, in the grand final at London Road on Friday, August 1.
As an incentive to attract more spectators, season ticket holders at Shrewsbury Town Football Club, those wearing the club’s football shirt and anyone picking up a flyer at the club’s first two pre-season friendlies at the Greenhous Meadow will qualify for a free drink tomorrow night.
Rather than holding the tournament on a Sunday in August as in previous years, it is being spread over three Friday evenings this summer to attract more spectators and avoid fixture congestion towards the end of the season.
SHREWSBURY, from: E Foster, S Leach, J Leach, E Barnard, T Cox, R Foster, A Parker, D Jones, M Barnard, E Green, S Griffiths, C Morris.