Steve Barnard

Steve Barnard steers Shrewsbury to fifth Williamson final

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chroncile

Steve Barnard’s batting exploits sent Shrewsbury through to yet another Graham Williamson Trophy final on a weekend which brought more disappointment for the reigning champions in the Birmingham League.

The London Roaders slipped into the premier division’s bottom two after losing heavily by 118 runs at home to Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday.

But there was better news 24 hours later as all-rounder Barnard’s unbeaten 68 helped Shrewsbury beat Kidderminster by two wickets to set up a final against Walmley on a date to be arranged in the Graham Williamson Trophy.

Shrewsbury can do no wrong in this competition having won it for the last four years but their Midas touch, for the time being at least, has temporarily deserted them in the league.

Kidderminster batted first on Sunday and posted 197-8 as they were kept in check by three wickets apiece from Aussie Patrick Butler and youngster Jack Garmson.

Shrewsbury, in reply, lost a flurry of early wickets but Tom Cox steadied the ship with 31 before Barnard, at No 7, saw the job through in style, his unbeaten 68 steering the hosts to 198-8 with eight balls to spare.

“Steve really won us the game which was pleasing to see,” said captain Rob Foster. “He also bowled well and we were happy to get through to the final once again.”

It was an ideal pick me up for Shrewsbury after their worrying batting frailties were again ruthlessly exposed in the league on Saturday when they were dismissed for just 104 in reply to Knowle & Dorridge’s 222-7.

The visitors, invited to bat first, were in early trouble at 38-2 with the usually free-scoring Alex Phillips and overseas ace Michael Hill, a big star for Victoria in Australian’s Big Bash competition, both failling cheaply to Dewi Jones (2-40).

Shrewsbury still looked in the driving seat with K&D precariously placed at 94-5 despite a rapid 63 from 45 balls by opener Richard Johnson, a regular in first class cricket for Derbyshire.

But then captain David Smith (65) and Jack Grundy (61) joined forces to put on 125 for the sixth wicket as Shrewsbury found themselves chasing a much bigger target than they would have envisaged at one stage.

Mike Barnard, making his first league appearance of the season, backed up the early efforts of Jones by taking 2-33 and there were a couple of late victims for Elliot Green (2-43).

Shrewsbury, in reply, quickly had that sinking feeling once again as wickets fell all too regularly.

Welshman Jones top scored with a hard-hitting 35 from 44 balls at No 8 but otherwise meaningful support was in short supply.

Ed Foster, fresh from cracking a glorious century for a Birmingham League representative XI against a Worcestershire XI at Bromsgrove, departed for 15.

Then Joe Leach, making a welcome return from playing for Worcestershire in the County Championship, struck a couple of crisp boundaries before being caught for 18 as Shrewsbury again struggled to impose themselves with the bat, just managing to limp into three figures.

Will Mottram inflicted much of the damage by taking 3-44 as Shrewsbury dropped to 11th place in the table ahead of Saturday’s trip to Walsall.

Skipper Foster conceded: “We just didn’t bat very well again unfortunately. Everyone seems to be out of form at the same time, but everyone has got previous in terms of scoring runs so it will come good again for us.

“We had them 90-5 and potentially we were looking at getting them out for about 150 but then the two lads who both got 60 for them in the middle order came in and played well, not giving any chances.

“We then lost early wickets again so were always under pressure.

“It was disappointing because at the halfway stage we thought we were in a good position on a good pitch, but they bowled well.”

Meanwhile, it was an equally disappointing day for SHREWSBURY II last Saturday as they crashed to the bottom of the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division table with a crushing 261 run defeat at leaders Knowle & Dorridge II.

Shrewsbury’s youngsters were shot out for 46 inside 22 overs with little resistance once captain Jon Anders, the opener, departed for 20.

The hosts earlier racked up a formidable 307-3 declared from 39 overs.

Opener Dominic Harding led the onslaught with an unbeaten 150 and John Price added 96. Jack Garmson plugged away to take 2-50.

Shrewsbury’s second sting host fourth-placed Wolverhampton II on Saturday.