By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
SHREWSBURY gave a timely reminder of their capabilities by hammering Walsall, a result skipper Rob Foster hopes will inject fresh belief into his side’s Birmingham League premier division campaign.
Shrewsbury romped to a stunning 147 run away win to climb out of the top-fight’s bottom two and up to eighth place in the table ahead of Saturday’s home game with Walmley.
The London Roaders quickly returned to Walsall 24 hours later to compete in Birmingham League finals day of the ECB National Club Twenty20 KO.
They saw off hosts Walsall, who must be fed up with the sight of the county towners, in the semis, but missed out on a place in the regional stages after losing heavily to Barnt Green in the final later on Sunday afternoon.
But there was no doubting the highlight of Shrewsbury’s busy weekend with Foster delighted with the manner of the convincing victory, just a third league success of the season, against a Walsall side featuring Pakistan international star Umar Amin.
“It was a really good all-round team performance,” enthused Foster. “The way we performed was much like last year and it’s never easy going to Walsall as they won the league the year before us and have still got a lot of those players in their side.
“We now need to find some consistency and put a few wins together.”
Walsall’s overseas pro Amin found himself totally upstaged by a fired up Shrewsbury side as he failed to take a wicket before being dismissed for an eight-ball duck, caught by Ed Foster off Steve Barnard who delivered a sharp opening spell which left the hosts in major trouble.
Foster said: “It’s always enjoyable to play against someone who has played Test cricket. Sometimes it’s nice in a way to watch them score a few runs and watch them play, but Steve Barnard cleaned him up early on with a really good ball.”
Shrewsbury, stuck in, had earlier made assured progress towards totalling a competitive 225-8.
They lost Steve Leach early on but that brought together the Foster brothers and they put on 87 for the second wicket.
Ed Foster led the way with 64 from 114 balls, hitting a six and five boundaries, while skipper Rob Foster added 42.
Other useful contributions from wicketkeeper Anthony Parker (47no) and Steve Barnard (40) kept the scoreboard ticking over as Walsall’s Paul Byrne claimed 4-74.
Walsall, in reply, were quickly plunged into turmoil with Barnard, who claimed 3-19 from nine lively overs, reducing them to 10-3.
Byrne offered limited resistance by making 30 but Walsall were then undone by former Shelton paceman Sam Griffiths, who claimed 4-18 from 9.2 overs, and Mike Barnard (2-17) as they were skittled for just 78 inside 34 overs.
“Our score was a very competitive one,” said the skipper. “We were put in and there was a bit in the wicket early on but Ed batted very well and we managed to put a few on. Then Anthony Parker and Steve Barnard also played well.
“Steve bowled very well at the start of the Walsall innings, taking three wickets and he might have had a fourth but for a dropped catch, and then Sam came on and took four wickets. It was all very pleasing.”
Lightning struck twice 24 hours later with Shrewsbury, showing five changes from Saturday, beating Walsall again, this time in the Birmingham League semi-finals of the ECB National Club Twenty20.
Walsall opted to bat first and Griffiths again enjoyed himself, claiming 3-22, while Jack Garmson played his part with 2-25 as the home side were restricted to 139-8 from their 20 overs.
Shrewsbury timed their chase to perfection to advance to 140-5 with four balls to spare.
Rob Foster, promoted to open, hammered 60 from 37 balls, putting on 90 for the second wicket with his brother Ed, who saw the job through with an unbeaten 61 from 53 deliveries.
That set up a final clash against Barnt Green, five run conquerors of Tamworth in the other semi.
But Shrewsbury were unable to make it three wins out of three for the weekend as they were well beaten by nine wickets after being bowled out for just 52.
Foster added: “We played very well in the semi to chase down 140. In the final we were a little reliant on a few of us at the top of the order and unfortunately we didn’t fire. To be bowled out for 52 was a bit embarrassing but Barnt Green are a good side and had a strong team out.”