In-form Tom Cox and Mike Barnard miss season finale

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Tom Cox, fresh from hitting his first century of the season last weekend, and paceman Mike Barnard are both unavailable for Shrewsbury’s final match of their Birmingham Cricket League premier division season at Walmley on Saturday.

Cox cracked a glorious, unbeaten 120 in last Saturday’s home win over Walsall which condemned the visitors to relegation.

It was part one of a highly successful weekend for the London Roaders as they swiftly followed it up with a 113 run beating of Walmey, this Saturday’s hosts, to lift the Graham Williamson Trophy for a fifth successive year.

Now skipper Rob Foster wants his in-form side, who have climbed to fourth in the table, to sign off a season which has improved the longer it went on with one final flourish.

“I think we could fall to sixth if we lose so it would be nice to finish on a high by picking up another good result,” said Foster. “It would be great to keep the winning run going and we’ve been playing well recently.”

Shrewsbury all-rounder Joe Leach, who has enjoyed such a promising season with Worcestershire, played a starring role with the bat for the Pears in the first innings of their crunch clash with Surrey this week.

Leach, who played for Shrewsbury last Saturday, top scored with 70 for Worcestershire as they chase victory to make their County Championship second division promotion dreams come true in their penultimate game of the season.

Shrewsbury’s second team, meanwhile, were relegated from the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division following defeat at Wolverhampton II last weekend despite centuries from Will Parton and Australian youngster Patrick Butler.

Shrewsbury come unstuck on travels

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury are targeting the start of another decent run of results after their recent revival in the Birmingham League premier division was emphatically ended with a heavy 113 run defeat at fellow mid-table side Kenilworth Wardens.

Skipper Rob Foster revealed beforehand that Shrewsbury usually struggle on their visits to the Warwickshire club and that pattern disappointingly continued.

Foster admitted it was a day to forget and is now seeking two much better displays over the Bank Holiday weekend as Shrewsbury, 38 points clear of the relegation zone, host Kidderminster on Saturday before a tricky trip to second-placed Barnt Green on Monday.

Kenilworth opted to bat first last weekend and found conditions just to their liking to amass a competitive 304-3 from their 50 overs.

Mike Barnard, the only Shrewsbury bowler to enjoy any success, claimed 3-53 from 10 overs, but it was otherwise hard going for the visiting attack as the runs flowed freely.

Wardens skipper Martin Donald smashed an unbeaten 108 from just 51 balls while opener Keith Bell, the brother of England Test star Ian, narrowly missed out on a ton, ending on 97 not out.

Kenilworth’s long-serving Indian pro Sitanshu Kotak also kept the scoreboard ticking over by hitting 68.

Shrewsbury, in reply, quickly lost in-form opener Ed Foster and they were always up against it as they were eventually dismissed for 191.

Will Parton, making a welcome return to the side, top scored with 35 while there were also runs for skipper Foster (32), Steve Leach (22) and Tom Cox (21), but no-one delivered a telling contribution as Alastair Wilkinson claimed 4-42.

“It was obviously disappointing,” said captain Foster. “Sometimes you have to credit the opposition and their captain, Martin Donald, played a great innings.

“It was some of the cleanest hitting I’ve seen in a long time and he really took the game away from us.

“I felt anything around 250 would have been a good score but they ended up passing that fairly comfortably.

“When we batted Ed hit the first ball for four and was then out off the second ball so that kind of summed up our day.”

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury II enjoyed one of their better days of a difficult season in the reserve premier division by beating Attock II by 50 runs at London Road.

The home side’s total of 142 all out in which experienced pair Jon Anders and William Davies were mainstays looked vulnerable at the halfway stage, but then Shrewsbury excelled in the field to skittle Attock for 92, with young Jack Garmson taking five wickets.

Shrewsbury, who remain bottom of the league, travel to Moseley II on Saturday before hosting Barnt Green II on Monday.

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.

Ed Foster

Shrewsbury take Club title

The 2011 ECB National Club Championship Final was a fantastic advert for club cricket, with Shrewsbury beating Cambridge Granta in the final over, Shrewsbury captain Ed Foster scoring an unbeaten 98 to guide his team to victory.

Losing the toss and put in to bat at the County Ground in Derby, Granta made a solid 220 for eight from their 45 overs, with Alex Fullarton leading the scoring with 87 not out from 114 balls.

Craig Park was the mainstay of a third wicket stand of 65 with Fullarton, cracking 45 of them from just 31 balls, including five fours and one six; but two wickets apiece from Mike Barnard, Rob Foster and Elliot Green kept the Cambridge total in check.

It was Shrewsbury skipper Foster that was to play the master innings of the day though, carrying his bat and finishing two short of a century to steer his side over the winning line with two balls of the match to spare; Rob Foster’s 39, 26 from Joe Leach and 23 from Tom Cox helping Salop to a famous three-wicket triumph.