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.