Impressive Cox lays platform for Shrewsbury win

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Rob Foster, the Shrewsbury skipper, was delighted to see Tom Cox recapture his best form as the London Roaders moved to the brink of Birmingham League premier division safety with victory over Kidderminster.

Shrewsbury, washed out at title hopefuls Barnt Green on Monday, now know victory at Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday will make them mathematically safe as they sit 51 points clear of the bottom two with three games to play.

Cox was the star of the show as Kidderminster were beaten by 11 runs in a well contested clash at London Road last Saturday.

Batting at No 3, Cox just fell short of a richly deserved century, dismissed for 94 from 122 balls, a fine knock featuring a six and nine fours, as he lifted the Shrewsbury score up to 187 all out.

No other Shrewsbury player made it past 20 as Cox, eighth man out, held the innings together.

“Tom Cox was outstanding,” said skipper Foster. “It was as good a knock I’ve seen him play for a long time and he helped us put a score on the board as we didn’t bat well as a team.

“By his standards, he’s perhaps not got the runs he would have wanted this season, so it was pleasing to see him play so well.”

A rain interruption meant Kidderminster were set a revised victory target of 176 in 42 overs, but they fell short, dismissed for 164 with eight balls remaining.

Opener Richard Kimberlin top scored with 44 but Worcestershire’s Matt Pardoe, who has lost his place at the top of the New Road club’s batting order to former Shropshire skipper Richard Oliver, managed just 13 before being caught by Steve Leach off the bowling of Mike Barnard.

Shrewsbury were pleased to welcome back a Worcestershire player of their own in Joe Leach, but he took a back seat as the lion’s share of the wickets were shared between Dewi Jones (3-26), Sam Griffiths (3-28) and Elliot Green (3-37).

“It was good to get a win,” added Foster. “All the bowlers did really well and we also took some good catches.”

Meanwhile, improving Shrewsbury II host leaders Knowle & Dorridge II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division on Saturday chasing a great escape from relegation.

Shrewsbury’s second string hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with an impressive five run victory at Moseley II last Saturday but were then washed out at home to Barnt Green II on Monday.

Shrewsbury’s total of 208-9 just proved to be enough as Moseley were removed for 203.

George Panayi was the top performer for Shrewsbury, taking five wickets after earlier hitting 57, while the London Roaders were also well served with the bat by Henry Blofield, in good touch for 59, and Toby Jones (26).

It was a second successive victory for Shrewsbury after beating Attock a week earlier and they are 16 points adrift of safety with three games to play.

“We’ve given ourselves a bit of a chance,” said captain Jon Anders. “We’ve still got three of the top four to play in Knowle & Dorridge, Wolverhampton and Walmley.

Shrewsbury are without both Panayi and Blofield this weekend.

Rob Foster

Foster eyes more of the same

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

ROB FOSTER, Shrewsbury’s proud captain, wants his talented young side to become a dominant force in the Birmingham Cricket League after being crowned champions for the second time inside four years.

Shrewsbury wrapped up the premier division title of a league renowned as one of the best in the country with three games to spare after a five-wicket burst from Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach set up a convincing win over Walsall in front of a big London Road crowd on Monday.

Now Foster, delighted to have led his home town club to glory in his first season at the helm, is hungry for plenty more success.

“That’s got to have to be our aim now,” said Foster. “Wellington always go on about the fact they won the Birmingham League two years running in 2003 and 2004 so it would be nice to win it again next year.

“But you can’t take anything for granted in this league. You’ve just got to turn up and perform every week really. As soon as you start getting ahead of yourselves, you struggle.

“It’s just nice to win it as it’s great for the club and great for the lads.

“We’ve come a long way as a group since we first won the league in 2010 so it’s been very pleasing all round.

“We’ve only lost two of our 19 games this season in the league which shows how well we’ve played so I think it’s all credit to ourselves that we’ve finished it so early. We’ve been outstanding this year.”

Foster stressed it had been a real team effort this season, highlighting the contribution of the whole first team squad.

“It’s a credit to the strength of the club in the firsts and seconds really,” he said. “We’ve used something like 18 or 19 players on a Saturday in the first team.

“Henry Blofield pulled out of Monday’s game with tonsillitis but he’s stepped up into the first team bracket this season. Dan Manders has been around a long time but he put in a key performance for us at Walmley and people like Tom Ellis have also played their part at times.

“We’ve missed Ed Barnard the whole year and he’s probably the outstanding player his age in England having already played for England’s under-19s at 17 so it really has been a great all round effort.”

Foster now wants his team to push for more wins over the final three games of the season, beginning with Saturday’s visit of Brockhampton, one of only two sides to have beaten Shrewsbury in the league this season.

“We’ve earned the right to enjoy these three games and play with a bit more freedom,” said the skipper. “But it would be nice to get three more wins on the board and really hammer it home for the season. We don’t want to ease off or play poorly so it’s up to us to keep winning.”

Leach is ruled out through Worcestershire duty this weekend but Foster revealed there was a chance England batsman James Taylor, the club’s contracted player from Nottinghamshire, could be drafted in for his second apperance of the season.

“He might come in,” smiled Foster. “If he’s about and wants to play, I’ll try and get him in.”

There’s also cricket at London Road on Sunday with Shrewsbury hosting the popular Salop Leisure Twenty20 Knockout.

Shrewsbury take on Oswestry in the first semi final (10.30am) with the second last four clash between Whitchurch and Shifnal to follow. The two winners will then contest the final.

“It should be a good day, an enjoyable day,” added Foster. “It will be nice to have a few teams from around the county here.”