James Taylor

Taylor can’t prevent 1st XI slipping to third defeat

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

NOT even the presence of England batsman James Taylor for the first time this season could prevent Shrewsbury from being edged out in the last over of a tight clash at Berkswell.

Taylor, the London Road club’s high profile contracted player, made himself available after captaining Nottinghamshire Outlaws to victory over Lancashire Lightning in their T20 Blast opener at Trent Bridge the night before.

But the former Shrewsbury School run machine perished for 24 as the county towners were beaten by three wickets with just two balls to spare by a Berkswell side which handed a debut to former Pakistan international Tanvir Ahmed.

It was a third defeat in four Birmingham League premier division games this season for Shrewsbury who are bottom of the table ahead of hitting the road again on Saturday when they travel to Himley.

Shrewsbury opener Ed Foster said: “It’s fine margins in this 50 over win-lose format and we might have won two of the games we’ve lost at Brockhampton and now Berkswell.

“We know the problems we are making and we have to put them right. Our fielding probably cost us 20 or 30 runs. It was neck and neck for the last 10 overs but we’re learning the hard way at the moment.”

Shrewsbury opted to bat first and rattled up 217-7 from their 50 overs.

Opener Foster top scored with 48 while there were also decent contributions from Australian debutant Patrick Butler (47no), skipper Foster (40), Tom Cox (37) and No 3 Taylor (24).

Berkswell timed their chase to prefection to eventually scramble past the winning post at 218-7 with two balls to spare.

Nick James held the innings together with an unbeaten 53 and captain Dominic Ostler, the former Warwickshire stalwart, added 41.

Import Ahmed, though, managed just six before being caught by Sam Griffiths off the bowling of Elliot Green who claimed 3-28.

There were also wickets for Charlie Morris (2-38) and newcomer Butler (2-43) as Shrewsbury were edged out in a tight finish.

Foster reserved special praise for teenage newcomer Butler who batted well at No 6 and also bowled tidily with his leg spin as he helped peg Berkswell back after a flying start.

Foster added Shrewsbury were also delighted to be able to include Nottinghamshire star Taylor in their side.

“It’s always good to see Jimmy and it’s great he had the desire to want to come and play for us after being on the field for Notts the previous night,” he stressed.

“You could tell it’s Twenty20 season the way he played and he hit a couple of sixes in his 24. He always brings a lot to the team when he’s available.”

Meanwhile, SHREWSBURY II will hope Saturday’s home game against Himley II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division will bring about a change in fortunes.

The London Road second string were well beaten by 101 runs by Leamington Spa II last weekend. Shrewsbury laboured to 148-9 in reply to the visitors’ 249-6.

James Codling (33), William Davies (27), Jon Anders (25no) and Dan Manders (23) chipped in with the bat, while Shrewsbury’s best bowlers were Tom Somerville (3-39) and Manders (2-48).

James Taylor

Taylor set for seasonal bow

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

England batsman Jimmy Taylor is pencilled in to make his first Birmingham League appearance of the season for Shrewsbury at Berkswell on Saturday.

The Nottinghamshire star, the club’s high profile contracted player, contacted captain Rob Foster earlier this week to declare his availability.

Taylor takes his place in a strong 12-man squad also bolstered by the return of opener Ed Foster and Steve Barnard.

Alex Blofield is ruled out through unavailability while Dan Manders, a late call up for last Saturday’s opening premier division win of the season against Dorridge, also drops out.

“Jimmy texted me to say ‘pencil me in for Saturday’ as Nottinghamshire don’t have a game,” said skipper Foster.

“It depends on other commitments and if something else crops up between now and Saturday, but hopefully he will play and it’s always great to have him about.

“It gives everyone a big lift knowing you’ve got someone like Jimmy in your side.”

Taylor, now one-day captain at Trent Bridge, played for Shrewsbury for half a season when he was a pupil at Shrewsbury School and has always kept in touch with the club.

He has been contracted player for the last three seasons but his availability has understandably been limited by his busy itinerary in first class cricket.

Foster, meanwhile, hopes Shrewsbury can now put a run together to lift them up the premier division table after the heroics of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach, who hit 144, propelled them to a convincing victory over Dorridge.

“We need to string a few wins together to get us back in touch,” he said. “But we know it will be a very tough game at Berkswell who are led by Dominic Ostler, a former Warwickshire player, and have some good players like the former England batsman Darren Maddy.”

SHREWSBURY, from: E Foster, S Leach, J Leach, J Taylor, T Cox, R Foster, A Parker, S Barnard, E Green, S Griffiths, D Jones, C Morris.

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.”

Steve Barnard

Steve Barnard the hero in hard-fought win

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

ROB FOSTER was all smiles after Steve Barnard’s late heroics with the bat kept Shrewsbury right on course to be crowned Birmingham League champions.

Two more victories over a busy Bank Holiday weekend which takes Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton on Saturday before hosting Walsall on Monday would take the London Roaders to the brink of title glory.

The ice cool Barnard hit a six and then a four from the final two balls of a dramatic premier division clash as Shrewsbury just about reached their revised victory target after several rain interruptions to seal a hard-earned two-wicket verdict over Walmley.

Joe Leach, Shrewsbury’s Worcestershire all-rounder, had earlier underlined his first class credentials by bowling sharply to take six wickets.

But it was the way in which Barnard stayed focused to secure another priceless victory which really delighted skipper Foster and the watching spectators, among them James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire and England batsman, and Shrewsbury’s high profile contracted player.

“It was nerve racking at the end,” said Foster. “We were far from our best so it’s always nice to win. Steve Barnard was magic really at the end, hitting the winning runs.

“It’s the second time this season against Walmley that we quite comfortably could have lost so it was great to win to keep our lead at the top, especially as Brockhampton also won.

“It’s a big result as it keeps us 55 points ahead with 100 points to play for.

“It’s massively in our hands so we just need to turn up and perform a bit better than we did against “Walmley.”

Walmley batted first and a 174 run stand for the fourth wicket between former Warwickshire and Derbyshire man Mo Sheikh, unbeaten on 102, and Andrew Hendry (89), formed the bedrock of their 258-9 from 50 overs.

Leach was far and away the pick of the Shrewsbury attack, taking 6-34 from 10 sharp overs a day after helping Worcestershire beat Bangladesh A at New Road.

“Joe was brilliant,” said Foster. “He did exactly what you want him to do and was the stand out by far, miles above anyone else who bowled for us.

“The rest of our bowling and fielding efforts was pretty ordinary all round which was disappointing, but Joe was outstanding which was good to see.”

Shrewsbury began their reply set a revised target of 238 from a reduced 40 overs but a couple more interruptions owing to rain eventually meant the figure that mattered was 190 in 32 overs.

After the final delay it all came down to the county towners needing to hit 47 from the final 4.4 overs and on the resumption Shropshire wicketkeeper Anthony Parker promptly cracked three successive sixes.

Shrewsbury then had a little wobble before Barnard (14no) hit a six off the penultimate ball of the match followed by a four off the final delivery to lead the relieved hosts over the line to 193-8.

Tom Cox, at No 5, had earlier dug in to hit 54 while Parker (37), Rob Foster (23) and Ed Foster (20) also contributed.
“Anthony’s three sixes in a row swung the game back in our favour,” added the skipper. “At one stage we needed 19 to win off the last three overs and I thought we would cruise it.

“We then nearly threw it away but then Steve Barnard came up with the goods again.”

James Taylor

Welcome boost as James Taylor set to feature

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

ENGLAND batsman James Taylor will be the headline act when Shrewsbury host West Bromwich Dartmouth in the Birmingham League on Saturday.

Taylor hit a stunning, unbeaten 204 in the County Championship for Nottinghamshire against Sussex at Trent Bridge earlier this week.

And now he’s told delighted Shrewsbury skipper Rob Foster that he should be available to make his first appearance of the season for the London Road club as they bid to bounce back from being knocked off the top of the premier division table.

There’s another boost for Shrewsbury, too, with allrounder Joe Leach set to return having impressed for Worcestershire in last weekend’s County Championship victory against Glamorgan at New Road.

But it’s the presence of Taylor on Shrewsbury’s team sheet which really excites Foster, with the 23-year-old Notts star, the club’s high profile contracted player, expected to bat at No 3.

Taylor, better known around London Road as Jimmy, has close links with the club having played for them as a teenager while studying at Shrewsbury School.

“I’ve spoken to Jimmy and he’s confirmed he’s available so hopefully he should play,” said skipper Foster. “He’s keen to play for us and has always said he will play whenever he gets the chance.

“He played for the club when he was 16 and spent five years at Shrewsbury School so he knows most of the lads well.

“To have someone of his quality coming into the side is a massive boost.

“I would expect there to be a few more at the game watching and it’s not often you get the chance to watch someone of his class first hand.”

Taylor played two Tests for England against South Africa last summer just after his only Shrewsbury outing of the 2012 season when he was run out cheaply at home to Brockhampton.

But Foster will be hoping for more of an impact this time from a man who averages just under 50 in first class cricket.

“Jimmy’s a matchwinner,” he said. “It’s also good news that Joe Leach should be available to return as he’s a key player for us with bat and ball.”

Will Parton and Tom Ellis will make way for Taylor and Leach.

Foster, meanwhile, is remaining positive about Shrewsbury’s long-term prospects despite the heavy defeat at Brockhampton last weekend which saw the Herefordshire club replace them in pole position.

“We’re joint second and we’re nearly halfway through the season,” said Foster. “You don’t win leagues at this stage of the season, but you can certainly put yourself out of contention.

“If someone had said to me at the start of the season we would have already won six league games by now then I would have taken it.”

The main danger to Shrewsbury’s hopes this weekend is likely to be West Bromwich captain Kadeer Ali, the former Gloucestershire and Worcestershire batsman.

Saturday’s match at London Road starts at noon and admission is free with Shrewsbury hoping a bumper crowd will take advantage of the chance to watch Taylor in action.

SHREWSBURY: E Foster, S Leach, J Taylor, T Cox, J Leach, R Foster, A Parker, S Barnard, M Barnard, S Griffiths, E Green.