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Steve Leach

MCCC awards for Shrewsbury trio

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

A TRIO of Shrewsbury players have received top Midlands Club Cricket Conference awards, with opening batsman Ed Foster insisting the recognition is well deserved.

Shrewsbury swept aside strong competition to be crowned Birmingham League champions with three games to spare in a campaign which also them reach the quarter finals of the ECB National Club Championship.

Now skipper Rob Foster, who could not have wished for a much more successful start at the helm, and promising young opening batsman Steve Leach have both won MCCC Cricketer of the Year awards.

There’s also silverware on the way for consistent wicketkeeper Anthony Parker who has scooped the Esmond Lewis Wicketkeeper of the Year award.

The awards will be presented at a dinner in Birmingham in March.

“It’s great recognition for the players involved but also for the club,” said Ed Foster, whose total of 874 runs made him the top run scorer in the Birmingham League premier division last season.

Five players from across the region are selected for Cricketer of the Year awards each year, with Rob Foster and Leach both getting the nod this time.

“Aside from the captaincy which he took to very well, Rob had a great season with the bat,” said Foster, of his younger brother. “He played some explosive and very effective innings at times but he also batted very responsibly when he needed to.

“The time Steve Leach spent in Australia last winter really helped his development and last season was his first big one in adult cricket.
“He came third in the list of run scorers in the premier division with more than 800 runs, a fantastic achivement for someone so young.

“We’re fortunate to have him at the club and, while it’s disappointing he’s not involved with the professional game at the moment having left Worcestershire, I’m sure another opportunity will come his way at some stage.”

Parker, the long-serving glovesman for Shropshire, played a key role behind the stumps for Shrewsbury in his first season with the club after making the switch from Shifnal.

Foster added: “It’s great for the bowlers to know there’s someone who will take the chances they provide. You won’t find a better wicket-keeper batsman in the league than Anthony.

“Anthony was excited to come and play for Shrewsbury as he’s a fierce competitor who wanted to come and play for a side challenging for trophies.”

Shrewsbury are no strangers to picking up MCCC winners and Elliot Green, their talented leg spinner, was named overall Cricketer of the Year, the top prize available, for 2012.

John Foster, Ed Foster and Steve Gale, all former Shrewsbury captains, have also won the prestigious award in the past.

Anthony Parker

Parker sets record as Shrewsbury collect trophy

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

CHAMPIONS Shrewsbury are now a massive 90 points clear at the top of the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division after handing out a nine-wicket beating to Brockhampton just before skipper Rob Foster was presented with the title trophy.

And it was also a rewarding day for consistent wicketkeeper Anthony Parker as he set a new club Birmingham League record for the most dismissals in a season.

It was another dominant display from the London Roaders with England under-19 star Ed Barnard making a pleasing return to first team action following a long injury lay-off.

Opening batsman Steve Leach again underlined his promise with another fine knock, Steve Barnard bowled sharply to claim four wickets and then there was wicketkeeper Parker’s record.

The Shropshire glovesman, who ended a long association with Shifnal to join Shrewsbury this season, held on to three catches and completed a sharp stumping to take his number of league victims this term to 35.

It broke the previous club record of 32 dismissals achieved by Jack Brydon in the 2008 season with Parker’s contribution highlighted by skipper Foster.

He always knew Parker would add much to the Shrewsbury side which is why he was so pleased to entice him to London Road as a replacement for popular South African Ryan Bishop.

“It just shows how well he has kept,” said Foster. “He’s been superb behind the stumps and I can’t think of anything he’s missed all season.

“He’s been a great addition and has changed the dynamic of our side as he’s just got that X-factor down the order when he bats that takes games away from people while behind the stumps he’s a proven winner.

“Bish was a tough act to follow, but he’s done very well.”

Brockhampton, one of only two teams to have beated Shrewsbury in the league this season, never looked like conjuring up a repeat once Steve Barnard (4-38) reduced them to 44-4.

Ben Stebbings (46) and Dave Exall (25), two of Brock’s many Herefordshire Minor Counties regulars, attempted to lead a fightback, but Shrewsbury were always on top as they removed the visitors for 136.

There were also wickets for Sam Griffiths (2-24), Dan Manders (2-35) and Mike Barnard (2-37).

Shrewsbury, in reply, quickly lost Ed Foster for 12, but not before he had broken his own Birmingham League record of runs in a season. He now has 857 this year.

That brought together teenagers Steve Leach and Ed Barnard and they shared in an unbroken second-wicket stand of 111 as Shrewsbury eased to 139-1 and 20 more points against a side who had started the day in second place in the table.

Leach carried his bat for an unbeaten 61 from 106 balls, passing 700 league runs for the season in the process, while Barnard played like he had never been away for 46 not out.

Skipper Foster, whose side head to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday, hailed it as a another complete team performance.

“Steve Barnard really led the way with the ball, taking four quality wickets, and he was well backed up,” he said. “Then the batting was just clinical with Steve Leach superb again and so was Ed Barnard. It was very pleasing for everyone to see him back in a Shrewsbury shirt.”

Meanwhile, a day after being presented with the Birmingham League championship trophy, Shrewsbury skipper Rob Foster took delivery of more silverware as he lifted the Salop Leisure Twenty20 prize.

Shrewsbury, no strangers to success in the popular annual competition held at their London Road headquarters, beat Oswestry comfortably in the semi finals before seeing off Shifnal, last four conquerors of Whitchurch, in the final.

Sam Griffiths was the leading light for the county towners in the semi final, snaring 4-13, while there was also some success for Ed Foster (2-7) and Alex Johnson (2-18) as Oswestry were bowled out for 69.

Shrewsbury then eased to 71-3 inside nine overs with Brockhampton captain Ben Stebbings, their one permitted guest player, hitting an unbeaten 47.

That set up a Shrewsbury v Shifnal final later in the day and the hosts prevailed by six wickets.

Shifnal batted first and decent contributions from their South African guest Morne Heyneke (39), who captains Brewood, and Simon Gregory (30) pushed the total up to 134-9 from their 20 overs.

Mike Barnard (3-20) and Dan Manders (3-28) bowled well for Shrewsbury while ex-Cound man Johnson removed county captain Richard Oliver for just five.

Shrewsbury then chased well to reach 136-4 with 20 balls to spare as Will Parton (39no), Ed Foster (32) and Steve Barnard (17no) led the way.