Joe Leach

Shrewsbury set to face international star

Shrewsbury’s cricketers are desperate to get their Birmingham League season back on track by toppling a Walsall side likely to feature a Pakistan international star on Saturday.

All-rounder Umar Amin, Walsall’s high profile overseas professional, is expected to be on the opposite side as Shrewsbury strive to pep up their fortunes.

The London Road club also head to Walsall on Sunday for Birmingham League finals day of the ECB National Twenty20, but it’s the league meeting 24 hours earlier that’s arguably more important given their current lowly league position.

Shrewsbury dropped into the premier division’s bottom two with a heavy home defeat at the hands of Knowle & Dorridge last weekend, a fifth defeat in nine league outings for the reigning champions this season.

Skipper Rob Foster insists he remains confident that results will start to pick up as Shrewsbury get ready to face Walsall and their Pakistan ace Amin.

There was much excitement at the Gorway club when they managed to pull off a coup by securing the services of a man who has represented his country 27 times.

But Shrewsbury are no strangers to facing Test players in the Birmingham League having come up against the likes of Indian batsman Wasim Jaffer, New Zealand’s Ian Butler and Pakistan run machine Mohammad Yousuf in recent years.

Foster said: “Walsall’s Test star is doing well for them so he will be a key man, a dangerous cricketer, but it’s always nice to test yourselves against top players, something to always enjoy.”

Foster stressed he still believed Shrewsbury have what it takes to climb the table despite his current frustration.

“We’re pretty calm about it,” he said. “There’s no use ranting or raving about things. We’ve got players who have produced very good performances before and there’s no reason why they can’t again.”

Shrewsbury will be boosted by the availability of all-rounder Steve Barnard, who missed last Saturday’s defeat against K&D but was back in the side 24 hours later to hit an unbeaten 68 against Kidderminster as Shrewsbury reached the final of the Graham Williamson Trophy for a fifth successive year.

Foster added his side were still waiting to discover if Worcestershire would allow Joe Leach, now a regular in their County Championship side, to play club cricket for a second successive Saturday.

Shrewsbury will make a swift return to Walsall on Sunday to battle it out with the hosts, Tamworth and Barnt Green at the Birmingham League finals day for the ECB National Twenty20 competition. The winners will progress to the regional stages.

Shrewsbury (v Walsall, Saturday): from: S Leach, E Foster, T Cox, J Leach, R Foster, P Butler, A Parker, S Barnard, D Jones, S Griffiths, M Barnard, E Green.