Charlie Morris departs for Australia

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury have seen the last this season of Charlie Morris, the young spinner who recently forced his way into the Shropshire side, after he flew to Australia this week to begin his gap year in Sydney.

Morris, who joined Shrewsbury from Oswestry during the winter, has held down a regular place in the first team at London Road.

“Charlie’s done well for us since coming in,” said Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster. “He’s only a young lad so for him to come in and play first team cricket in the Birmingham League premier division and also get into the Shropshire frame has been good to see.”

The unavailable Steve Barnard also drops out from the team which chalked up a one-sided winning draw against Himley last weekend, but wicketkeeper Anthony Parker, now a groundsman at Wolverhampton Wanderers, could return for Saturday’s trip to Kenilworth Wardens.

Shrewsbury have now opened up a 40 point gap between themselves and the premier division relegation zone and skipper Foster, a centurion alongside his brother Ed last weekend, hopes the straight win-lose format which now kicks in for the last six games will see them climb higher than sixth spot.

Kenilworth are directly below Shrewsbury in the table, some 17 points adrift, and Foster is keen his team perform better than they usually do at the Warwickshire club.

“It’s always a tough place to go,” he said. “We traditionally do pretty poorly there. They’ve got a good overseas player, Sitanshu Kotak, who seems to have been there for ever.

“But we’re playing well at the moment so it’s just a case of going there and playing properly.”

Meanwhile, promising Shrewsbury all-rounder Ed Barnard gained more international recognition when he was part of the England under-19 side for the drawn second Youth Test against South Africa at Northamptonshire.

Barnard has now been selected for the five-match one-day series against the Springboks which gets under way at Edgbaston tomorrow (Friday).

Two further games follow at Trent Bridge, on Sunday and Monday, before the sides also meet at the home grounds of Leicestershire CCC and Derbyshire CCC.

Shrewsbury, from: E Foster, S Leach, R Foster, T Cox, A Parker, P Butler, M Barnard, E Green, S Griffiths, D Jones, G Hargrave, G Panayi, H Blofield.

Shrewsbury still searching for performances

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY’S stuttering season continued with skipper Rob Foster admitting his side were “outplayed” in their losing draw at Kidderminster – but there was better news 24 hours later as he starred in their National Twenty20 KO win over Attock.

Shrewsbury were indebted to a gritty knock from opener Ed Foster for ensuring they just about managed to hold on for a losing draw worth four points at Kidderminster in the Birmingham League premier division.

Foster kept his cool as wickets tumbled around him as Shrewsbury closed well off the pace on 98-9 in reply to Kidderminster’s competitive total of 175-6.

A delayed start at Chester Road owing to the wet weather saw the match eventuallly get under way at 3pm and it was a reduced 32 overs per side affair.

Kidderminster, invited to bat first, were well served by a third wicket stand of 90 between Michael Hill (65) and Craig Wood (53).

Sam Griffiths, the former Shelton seamer, was the pick of the visiting attack, claiming 3-36 from 10 overs, his victims including regular Worcestershire opener Matt Pardoe, caught and bowled for 21.

Spinner Charlie Morris, a close season recruit from Oswestry, also played his part by claiming 3-48.

Shrewsbury, in reply, were quickly up against it after slumping to 33-4 with Steve Leach, Anthony Parker, Tom Cox and skipper Foster all back in the pavilion.

But opener Foster was in unbeatable form, standing firm to compile an unbeaten 45, riding to Shrewsbury’s rescue, as he so often has over the years.

He faced 94 balls and hit four boundaries as Shrewsbury hung on for a losing draw, not that it was much consolation.

Dewi Morris (17) provided some support, but the Kidderminster attack, spearheaded by Gareth Williams (4-22), held the upper hand as Shrewsbury, who host Barnt Green on Saturday, slipped two places in the table to ninth spot.

Skipper Foster said: “We were so far off being competitive against a good Kidderminster side who really outplayed us.

“We want to put a few good performances together back to back but we don’t seem to be able to do it at the moment.

“Ed batted well and Sam Griffiths bowled well for his three wickets. His caught and bowled to get rid of Matt Pardoe was stunning – but overall it was a disappointing day for us.”

Sunday brought better news for Shrewsbury as they beat Attock by nine runs to set up a second round tie in the National Twenty20 KO at home to Oswestry on Sunday afternoon.

Skipper Foster cracked an excellent 60 from 30 balls and Tom Cox added 35 as Shrewsbury racked up 154-5 from their 20 overs.

Spinners Elliot Green and recent recruit Joe Hall then took two wickets apiece as Attock pulled up short on 145-9.

“It was a good performance and good to get a win,” added Foster. “They got 25 runs of the last two overs which made it look a bit closer than it probably was.”

SHREWSBURY II, who have not had much luck with the weather this season, had another unwanted day off with their scheduled home game with Moseley II unable to get started owing to London road being too wet.

They head to Barnt Green II in the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier reserve division on Saturday.

Shrewsbury Cricket Club

Jones and Morris to make debuts in opening weekend

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

NEW signing Dewi Jones goes straight into the Shrewsbury side as the Birmingham Cricket League champions open the new season with a Graham Williamson Trophy first round trip to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday.

“Dewi’s played a lot of games for Glamorgan’s Academy and for Wales in the Minor Counties and has always impressed when we’ve played against him,” said Rob Foster.

“He’s Wrexham-based and was keen to come and play for us. It’s always nice that people want to come and get involved.

“He’s rated very highly at Glamorgan and he fits the mould for us of being a young and keen player.”

Jones is the second close season recruit for Shrewsbury and the other, Charlie Morris, a left-arm spinner from Oswestry, is also in Saturday’s team as Shrewsbury hope to maintain their dominance of the Graham Williamson Trophy having won this competition for the last four years.

Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach and Ed Barnard, recently part of the England under-19 team which finished third in the ICC World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, also feature this weekend in a team which will be captained by Tom Cox.

Skipper Foster and his older brother Ed are both unavailable as they are guests at a family wedding while Sam Griffiths is also ruled out through his brother’s wedding.

Steve and Mike Barnard are also missing this weekend, as is opening batsman Steve Leach, earlier this week part of the Oxfordshire University side which took on a Warwickshire team featuring England batsman Jonathan Trott in a rain-ravaged clash at The Parks which ended in a draw.

The free-scoring Leach, who left Worcestershire midway through last summer, made his first class debut the previous week against Nottinghamshire.

SHREWSBURY: Tom Cox (captain), Joe Leach, Henry Blofield, Alex Blofield, Charlie Morris, Dewi Jones, Elliot Green, Ed Barnard, George Hargrave, Anthony Parker, Tom Ellis.

New signings in ahead of the new season

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

BIRMINGHAM Cricket League champions Shrewsbury have bolstered their bowling department by signing promising left-arm spinner Charlie Morris from Oswestry.

Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster said he was delighted to have landed Morris and stressed the new boy would be part of the first team squad at London Road.

Foster said: “Charlie’s a very good bowler and he’s been involved in senior nets for Shropshire over the winter.

“Oswestry have got some very good spinners and at times he struggled to get a bowl there so he looked at his options and decided to come to us which we’re pleased about.”

Young all-rounder Henry Rose, a Shropshire under-16 player, has also decided to play his club cricket at Shrewsbury instead of Oswestry this season, but batsman Matt Gregson, who found first team chances hard to come by at London Road, has moved the other way.

“It’s disappointing to lose Matt and he did well when he played for us in the Graham Williamson Trophy,” said Foster. “But I can understand that he wants to play regular first team cricket.”

Shrewsbury will have a similar look to the side which performed so impressively last summer although there are doubts over the availability of paceman Mike Barnard after he moved to Cardiff to work.

“His availability might be a bit sketchy,” admitted Foster. “We’ll probably be picking from 15 or 16 players.

“I’m not sure how much we will see of Joe Leach as I would think he will he heavily involved at Worcestershire this season.

“It’s the same with Ed Barnard who will be ruled out by his Shrewsbury School commitments as well as games for probably Worcestershire and England under-19s too.

“But we’ve retained the squad which won the league and we’re looking forward to it.”

Shrewsbury’s opening match of the season will be a Graham Williamson Trophy tie at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday, April 12.