By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
Rob Foster, the Shrewsbury captain, insists Joe Leach richly deserves his new two-year contract with Worcestershire as he hopes to welcomes the all-rounder back into his side this weekend.
Leach was a key man for Shrewsbury when they won the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division last season, but his development into becoming a Worcestershire regular in all forms of the game this year means little has been seen of him at London Road since the early weeks of the campaign.
Foster stressed any club would miss a player of Leach’s ability but said everyone connected with Shrewsbury were delighted to see the former Shrewsbury School pupil successfully carving out a career in the first-class game.
He also revealed that Leach may be available to make a welcome return for Shrewsbury in part one of their Bank Holiday double header at home to Kidderminster on Saturday. They will quickly follow it up with a trip to title contenders Barnt Green on Monday.
Foster said: “Joe’s potentially available for Saturday and it’s great to see how fatastically well he’s doing at Worcestershire.
“They have finally put their faith in him and he’s had to do it the hard way and put in the hard yards.
“Everyone at the club is really proud to see Joe doing so well and he’s made great strides in the first-class game.”
Leach has emerged as a key man for Worcestershire who top the second division of the County Championship.
While he has yet to add to his maiden first-class century, at Gloucestershire last season, Leach has chipped in with some useful runs down the order and taken 30 Championship wickets.
He also recently claimed the notable scalp of Surrey’s Kevin Pietersen as Worcestershire narrowly missed out on a place in Twenty20 finals day.
“He has possibly been our most-improved seamer and he’ll definitely get another hundred because he is good enough,” said Worcestershire’s director of cricket Steve Rhodes.
Leach has not looked back since earning a recall to the Worcestershire side in May, claiming career-best figures of 5-36 against Kent at Tunbridge Wells.
Meanwhile, Foster added steering Shrewsbury, who sit 38 points clear of the relegation zone, to premier division safety as quickly as possible remains his top priority.
“There’s 40 points to play for over the weekend so things can change quickly,” he said. “Kidderminster are pushing for survival like we are and then we go to Barnt Green who are pushing for the title.
“They are two tough games but if we can get a lot of points it could really put us out of any danger so that’s the aim.”
As well as the prospect of Leach returning, Shrewsbury will also be boosted by the availability of Alex and Henry Blofield.
Shrewsbury, from: E Foster, S Leach, R Foster, T Cox, G Hargrave, W Parton, P Butler, G Panayi, E Green, M Barnard, S Griffiths, J Leach, A Blofield, H Blofield.