Youngster Hargrave given Midlands call

PROMISING Shrewsbury cricketer George Hargrave has been selected by the Midlands for the prestigious Bunbury under-15 Cricket Festival – while the London Road club’s first team target revenge at high flying West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday.

Warwickshire Academy prospect Hargrave, who has been in good touch for Shrewsbury’s second team in recent weeks, will take his place alongside the country’s top up and coming young players at Oakham School between July 20-25.

The renowned festival has been a breeding ground for many future stars in the past, among them former England spinner Graeme Swann, who will present the talented local lad with his Bunbury cap later this month.

Hargrave, a Shrewsbury School pupil, is rated highly by Shrewsbury skipper Rob Foster. Not only does he regularly open the batting for Shrewsbury’s second team, he is also a gifted young wicketkeeper.

“He’s a special talent for a young lad,” said Foster. “He’s only 14 and he’s quite small physically but he’s got great technique and concentration. You don’t see too many young lads with the determination to score runs like he has.

“He’s a very good cricketer and it’s good to see him involved at the Bunbury Festival. It will be good experience for him and the club’s delighted for him.”

Foster, meanwhile, will miss Shrewsbury’s Birmingham League trip to joint leaders West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday as he is unavailable.

Tom Cox will assume the captaincy in his absence and Foster just hopes the county towners can turn the tables for a heavy opening day defeat at home to West Bromwich when they they were bowled out for just 83.

“We were thrashed at home by them first game of the season,” recalled Foster, ruefully. “It would be good to put in a performance there like we have done in the last few weeks.

“It was embarrassing against them at home so we owe ourselves one to put in a better performance against them. Hopefully we can go there and get the lion’s share of the points.”

Foster added he had every faith in batsman Cox’s ability to lead the side.

“Tom’s done it in my absence before and he’s more than capable,” he said. “He’s a legend in Saracens circles for having won the Cricketer Cup as captain a couple of years ago.”

Shrewsbury have yet to finalise selection with Alex Blofield, Patrick Butler and Mike Barnard all in the frame to replace Foster against a West Bromwich side level on points with Berkswell at the top of the premier division table.

Former Gloucestershire batsman Kadeer Ali is one of several potential danger men, but Foster has urged his side to maintain their revival.

Shrewsbury had much the better of a draw at home to Walmley last Saturday after winning comfortably at Walsall a week earlier.

Those two results have lifted them from second-bottom up into mid-table in seventh spot.

SHREWSBURY, from: S Leach, E Foster, J Leach, E Barnard, T Cox, A Parker, D Jones, S Griffiths, E Green, M Barnard, A Blofield, C Morris, P Butler.

Rob Foster collects the Birmingham League trophy in 2013

Williamson Trophy win caps memorable season

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY’S brilliant season ended on a suitably positive note as they became Birmingham League record breakers before lifting the Graham Williamson Trophy yet again.

Rob Foster’s runaway champions saw off Wombourne by five wickets in their final premier division encounter to end the season with a new top flight record high of 378 points.

Then, just for good measure, Shrewsbury saw off Barnt Green by 32 runs in a rain-affected Graham Williamson Trophy final at London Road on Sunday to win the competition for the fourth successive year.

Shrewsbury ultimately finished a mighty 91 points clear at the top of the premier division after ending their season of dominance with another win, their 14th outright victory from 22 league games.

“Breaking the points record was a nice motivation to have going into the last game,” admitted Foster. “It’s been a fantastic season and we’ve ended up playing 43 games in all competitions.

“It’s been a long season but it’s been well worthwhile.”

Relegated Wombourne were their final league victims, not that Shrewsbury had it all their own way before running out five-wicket winners.

Sam Griffiths, the former Shelton paceman now a key part of Shrewsbury’s bowling attack, helped himself to 4-15 as Wombourne were removed for 116 inside 35 overs.

There was also some joy with the ball for spinners Elliot Green (2-21) and Alex Blofield (2-49).

Shrewsbury, in reply, were soon in trouble at 44-5 and an upset looked on the cards.

But then skipper Foster (40no) joined forces with 14-year-old first team debutant George Hargrave (32no) to put on an unbroken stand of 72 for the sixth wicket as Shrewsbury advanced to 118-5.

“Wombourne bowled very well with the new ball and got some good genuine wickets,” said Foster. “But fortunately myself and young George Hargrave, a late call up to replace Tom Cox, managed to then put a partnership together.

“George batted fantastically well and showed real maturity for a 14-year-old making his debut for the first team.

“He’s quite a small lad but he’s a good player, very keen cricketer and is already part of the Warwickshire Academy. He did really well.”

Shrewsbury then dug deep into their selection reserves 24 hours later with a host of regulars unavailable for the Williamson Trophy final against Barnt Green.

Shrewsbury totalled 155-3 from their reduced allocation of 20 overs before Barnt Green, eventually set a revised victory target of 186 in 18 overs, pulled up short on 154-8.

Will Parton (47), Joe Leach (44) and the big hitting Matt Gregson (35no) put bat to ball effectively for Shrewsbury who were flying at 70-0 off 10 overs before a rain delay restricted their innings to 20 overs.

Duckworth Lewis calculations initially set Barnt Green a 20 over target of 208 but more rain cut that to 187 from 18 and they ended up 32 runs short, Griffiths completing a good weekend by taking a couple more wickets.

“It’s the fourth year in a row we’ve won this competition and we’re proud to have kept the run going,” added Foster.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury’s Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach achieved two notable milestones for the London Road club against Wombourne.

Leach took his 100th Birmingham League wicket for the club at 18 apiece and also passed 2,000 league runs. He averages just over 30 with the bat in the premier division.