Graham Williamson Trophy 2014

Shrewsbury claim fifth straight Graham Williamson Trophy

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Proud skipper Rob Foster saluted his knockout kings after Shrewsbury lifted the Birmingham League’s Graham Williamson KO Trophy for an unprecedented fifth successive year.

The London Roaders have monopolised the competition in recent times and underlined their determination to retain the trophy by rattling up a big score en route to overwhelming Walmley by 113 runs in Sunday’s final.

It crowned a productive weekend as, helped by an excellent century from Tom Cox, Shrewsbury beat Walsall by 24 runs in the Birmingham League on Saturday, a result which saw the visitors relegated from the premier division.

“It’s pretty special to have won the Trophy five years in a row,” said Foster. “It’s really pleasing and a great effort.”

Shrewsbury, stuck in for Sunday’s final, needed no second invitation to pile on the runs as they raced to 292 all out inside 38 swashbuckling overs.

Openers Steve Leach (72) and Ed Foster (49) laid solid foundations by putting on 123 for the first wicket before England under-19 star Ed Barnard weighed in with 42.

Alex Blofield, whose appearances have been limited this season, then provided plenty of fireworks by cracking an unbeaten 68 from just 28 balls, hitting five sixes and seven boundaries in the process.

Walmley, in reply, were eventually dismissed for 179, with Australian Patrick Butler (4-25), Elliot Green (3-49) and Sam Griffiths (2-28) among the wickets.

Shrewsbury, who will wrap up their league season at Walmley on Saturday, had maintained their strong form over the second half of the campaign by sending Walsall down 24 hours earlier.

Cox, at No 5, played beautifully to compile an unbeaten 120 from 129 balls, his first century of the season. The Shropshire right hander narrowly missed out on a ton a fortnight earlier when he perished for 94 against Kidderminster, but this time he was not to be denied, hitting five sixes and 15 fours.

Skipper Foster (35) and Glamorgan’s Dewi Jones (22) were next best as Shrewsbury posted 267-9, with David Powles (3-49) and Josh Bowker (3-64) the pick of the Walsall attack.

Powles (70) and Worcestershire wicketkeeper Ben Cox (61) did their best to spark a successful chase but Walsall pulled up short as they closed on 243-7, Mike Barnard taking 2-33.

“Walsall came and played well so it was a good game of cricket,” added Foster. “The way Tom Cox batted was comfortably the best I’ve ever seen him play. He was very positive and played some great shots.”

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury II boasted two centurions in their game at Wolverhampton II, but it was still not enough to save them from a 118 run defeat, a result which sentenced them to relegation from the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division.

Will Parton struck 104 and Aussie teenager Butler ended unbeaten on 102 – his second century of the week after reaching three figures against an overseas touring side a few days earlier – as Shrewsbury closed on 240-3.

Wolverhampton earlier had two centurions of their own as they rattled up a formidable 358-5.

Shrewsbury’s second string end their season at Walmley II on Saturday.

Ed Barnard bats for England in the U19 cricket world cup

Bowlers lead Shrewsbury to Knowle and Dorridge victory

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Ed Barnard, Shrewsbury’s England under-19 all-rounder, grabbed four wickets on his first bowling appearance of the season to lift the London Roaders into the top four in the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division.

Barnard had been unable to bowl for Shrewsbury in his earlier outings for the club this term following back and side injuries, playing as a top order batsman.

But, having recently got among the wickets for England’s under-19s against South Africa, both in Youth Tests and then the one-day series,

Shrewsbury skipper Rob Foster was pleased to be able to throw him the ball during last weekend’s 40 run victory at Knowle & Dorridge.

Barnard responded by taking 4-28 from 7.1 overs as the home team were bowled out for 162 to hand Shrewsbury the points they needed to be mathematically safe from being dragged into any danger at the wrong end of the table – not that that was too big a concern given their impressive second half of the season revival.

“Ed had a stress fracture last year which unfortunately ruled him out of any cricket and from bowling,” said Foster. “That carried a bit into this year and in the few games he did play for us earlier in the season he had a side strain or something along those lines and hadn’t been able to bowl.

“But he showed his class last weekend, his quality, which was good to see.”

Barnard, also looking to impress at first class county Worcestershire in the closing weeks of the season, was well backed up with the ball by former Shelton man Sam Griffiths (3-27) and spinner Elliot Green (2-30) as the K&D reply fell away despite contributions from Jack Grundy (40) and Dom Harding (37).

Shrewsbury earlier posted 202 all out with opener Ed Foster once again laying solid foundations, hitting eight fours on his way to top scoring with 80 from 104 balls.

Alex Blofield, promoted to open in the absence of Steve Leach, added 26 and Tom Cox made 25 before Mike Barnard also chipped in down the order with 22 as home duo Michael Bevan and Tom Smith both took three wickets.

“It was a strange sort of batting performance from us,” added skipper Foster. “We were 120-1 after 25 overs which we were really pleased with and we were indebted to Ed and the way he played, so to then collapse to just over 200 all out I thought we might have been a bit light.

“But the way we bowled, led by Ed Barnard, was superb really. We bowled and fielded really well and took our chances. I don’t think we dropped anything which makes a change.

“It was pleasing and it was only the second time I’ve been on the winning side at Knowle & Dorridge. They’re a good side, especially at home, so it was really pleasing to get a win there.”

Shrewsbury will hope to sign off their home programme with another victory against relegation-threatened Walsall on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury II have it all to do scramble clear of the bottom two in the premier reserve division following an eight-wicket defeat in a rain-interrupted match at home to leaders Knowle & Dorridge II.

Jon Anders’s side, 27 points adrift of safety with just two games to play, matched the club’s first team run for run in being bowled out for 202 before the visitors just about reached their revised victory target of 156-2.

Anders, an opening batsman, was in excellent touch for 92 and Dan Manders made 25 before K&D were set a target of 154 in 33 overs which they just about managed after being pushed all the way.

Shrewsbury’s second string head to Wolverhampton II, Anders’s former club, on Saturday knowing only a win will be enough to take their fight for survival to the last day of the season.

Ed Foster

Large Walsall win encourages Foster

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY gave a timely reminder of their capabilities by hammering Walsall, a result skipper Rob Foster hopes will inject fresh belief into his side’s Birmingham League premier division campaign.

Shrewsbury romped to a stunning 147 run away win to climb out of the top-fight’s bottom two and up to eighth place in the table ahead of Saturday’s home game with Walmley.

The London Roaders quickly returned to Walsall 24 hours later to compete in Birmingham League finals day of the ECB National Club Twenty20 KO.

They saw off hosts Walsall, who must be fed up with the sight of the county towners, in the semis, but missed out on a place in the regional stages after losing heavily to Barnt Green in the final later on Sunday afternoon.

But there was no doubting the highlight of Shrewsbury’s busy weekend with Foster delighted with the manner of the convincing victory, just a third league success of the season, against a Walsall side featuring Pakistan international star Umar Amin.

“It was a really good all-round team performance,” enthused Foster. “The way we performed was much like last year and it’s never easy going to Walsall as they won the league the year before us and have still got a lot of those players in their side.

“We now need to find some consistency and put a few wins together.”

Walsall’s overseas pro Amin found himself totally upstaged by a fired up Shrewsbury side as he failed to take a wicket before being dismissed for an eight-ball duck, caught by Ed Foster off Steve Barnard who delivered a sharp opening spell which left the hosts in major trouble.

Foster said: “It’s always enjoyable to play against someone who has played Test cricket. Sometimes it’s nice in a way to watch them score a few runs and watch them play, but Steve Barnard cleaned him up early on with a really good ball.”

Shrewsbury, stuck in, had earlier made assured progress towards totalling a competitive 225-8.

They lost Steve Leach early on but that brought together the Foster brothers and they put on 87 for the second wicket.

Ed Foster led the way with 64 from 114 balls, hitting a six and five boundaries, while skipper Rob Foster added 42.

Other useful contributions from wicketkeeper Anthony Parker (47no) and Steve Barnard (40) kept the scoreboard ticking over as Walsall’s Paul Byrne claimed 4-74.

Walsall, in reply, were quickly plunged into turmoil with Barnard, who claimed 3-19 from nine lively overs, reducing them to 10-3.

Byrne offered limited resistance by making 30 but Walsall were then undone by former Shelton paceman Sam Griffiths, who claimed 4-18 from 9.2 overs, and Mike Barnard (2-17) as they were skittled for just 78 inside 34 overs.

“Our score was a very competitive one,” said the skipper. “We were put in and there was a bit in the wicket early on but Ed batted very well and we managed to put a few on. Then Anthony Parker and Steve Barnard also played well.

“Steve bowled very well at the start of the Walsall innings, taking three wickets and he might have had a fourth but for a dropped catch, and then Sam came on and took four wickets. It was all very pleasing.”

Lightning struck twice 24 hours later with Shrewsbury, showing five changes from Saturday, beating Walsall again, this time in the Birmingham League semi-finals of the ECB National Club Twenty20.

Walsall opted to bat first and Griffiths again enjoyed himself, claiming 3-22, while Jack Garmson played his part with 2-25 as the home side were restricted to 139-8 from their 20 overs.

Shrewsbury timed their chase to perfection to advance to 140-5 with four balls to spare.

Rob Foster, promoted to open, hammered 60 from 37 balls, putting on 90 for the second wicket with his brother Ed, who saw the job through with an unbeaten 61 from 53 deliveries.

That set up a final clash against Barnt Green, five run conquerors of Tamworth in the other semi.

But Shrewsbury were unable to make it three wins out of three for the weekend as they were well beaten by nine wickets after being bowled out for just 52.

Foster added: “We played very well in the semi to chase down 140. In the final we were a little reliant on a few of us at the top of the order and unfortunately we didn’t fire. To be bowled out for 52 was a bit embarrassing but Barnt Green are a good side and had a strong team out.”

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.

Dewi Jones’ haul guides Shrewsbury to tight win

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

DEWI JONES made his first significant contribution for Shrewsbury as the Birmingham League champions hauled themselves off the bottom of the premier division with a hard-earned victory.

Jones, a regular in the Wales Minor Counties Championship side, knocked over the top four Kenilworth Wardens batsman as Shrewsbury pulled off a 29 run verdict in a low scoring game to secure a morale-boosting second league win of the summer.

The London Roaders could have been excused for fearing the worst at the halfway stage after being dismissed for a modest total of 116 which was built around a determined half century from Tom Cox.

But once paceman Jones made early inroads there was no way back for Wardens and they were sent packing for just 87 inside 25 overs.

“It was a huge 24 points for us,” said Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster. “The pitch was pretty difficult, hard to score on, but Tom Cox played very well. His 50 in the circumstances was probably worth 100 as it gave us something to bowl at.

“He’s done well for us a few times over the years in this sort of position when our backs are against the wall by putting his hand up and scoring a few.

“Then Dewi bowled really well which was great to see and he took out their top four batsmen to quickly put them on the back foot.”

Foster was pleased with the spirit his side displayed on a day they were missing several key men with the the likes of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach, Steve Barnard, Ed Barnard and Alex Blofield all absent.

The result rocketed Shrewsbury from bottom up to seventh place ahead of Saturday’s trip to Kidderminster.

Jones, who spent last season playing his club cricket for Wombourne, grabbed five wickets for Wales in the Unicorns Trophy at

Wiltshire the previous weekend and weighed in with another five-wicket haul for Glamorgan’s second team at Somerset in between his starring role for Shrewsbury.

And he picked up where he left off in those games by quickly removing the Kenilworth top order to leave them reeling at 39-4.

Australian youngster Patrick Butler (3-6) and Shropshire new boy Sam Griffiths (3-25) then got to work to dismiss Wardens for 87.

“Both Pat and Sam did very well after Dewi picked up the first four wickets,” added skipper Foster. “Sam got the next three before Pat cleaned up the tail.

“He’s been a big plus for us since coming in. He bowls his leg spin a little quicker than Elliot (Green) and I thought he would cause them problems with his variation.”

Shrewsbury had earlier found runs hard to come by with the exception of Cox, at No 3, who dropped anchor to compile a defiant 54 from 122 balls.

It was just what Shrewsbury needed as they lost wickets at regular intervals with the experienced Jon Anders, a late call up to replace the injured Ed Barnard, the next highest scorer with 17.

Meanwhile, SHREWSBURY II are next-to-bottom in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division table ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Moseley II.

They were beaten by two wickets at Attock II last weekend with Shrewsbury’s total of 173-7 not quite enough to see them home.

Shrewsbury Cricket Club

Blofield returns as Shrewsbury seek win

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

It’s not been the start to the season Birmingham Cricket League champions Shrewsbury wanted, but captain Rob Foster insists no-one at London Road is pressing the panic button ahead of Saturday’s visit of Dorridge.

Shrewsbury have been beaten in both of their premier division games this term, tasting defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Dartmouth and then Brockhampton.

They are without two of their regulars this weekend as opening batsman Ed Foster is an usher at a friend’s wedding while Steve Barnard is ruled out through university commitments.

Alex Blofield and county paceman Mike Barnard, making his first appearance of the season, are pencilled in as replacements.

Skipper Foster detected some plus points in last weekend’s three-wicket reverse and hopes it will be a case of third time lucky as Shrewsbury get ready to host top-flight newcomers Dorridge (noon).

“There’s definitely no panic,” said Foster. “You don’t become a bad team overnight.

“We’ve got great players and it’s just a case of someone needing to put a great performance in.

“No-one’s quite done it yet, got a big score or taken some wickets to win us a game, which will bring our confidence back up and get us buzzing again.

“But the win a young team pulled off in the National KO at Penkridge last Sunday will help as that was a fantastic effort.

“Going into Dorridge, I feel that we’re getting back towards the cricket we can play. I don’t know why but it’s been a strange start to the season, but hopefully come Saturday we’ll be ready to give a good performance.”

Shrewsbury will be forced to ring the changes once again for Sunday’s local derby at town rivals Reman Services in the second round of the ECB National Club Championship (1pm) owing to Shropshire call ups.

Rob Foster, Ed Foster, Tom Cox, Anthony Parker, Alex Blofield and Sam Griffiths, who will be making his county debut, are all in the Shropshire team to take on Northumberland at Newcastle in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

The all county town clash is one that both teams will be eagerly awaiting as Reman go in search of a shock win against Shrewsbury who play four divisions higher.

“Shrewsbury have got quality players throughout the club,” said Reman’s experienced bowler Shane Gwilt. “It’s a great challenge for us and it’s a game we’re really looking forward to. We’ll give it our best shot and see where it takes us.

“I think it’s a great game for the town as playing Shrewsbury was always the derby for us. They’ve obviously since gone on to great heights and are now four divisions higher but it will be nice to see a few familiar faces.”

Shrewsbury captain Foster added: “The last time I played Reman I was about 18 and I think they beat us in a knockout match.

“We’ll be hampered again by Shropshire unavailability but it’s always nice to play a local fixture and I’m sure Reman will be looking forward to it.

“They’re a good set of lads down there and I know Ed Ashlin, the captain, quite well. He’s a good lad. I’m sure it will be good fun for both sides.

“There’s local bragging rights, I suppose. We would love to beat Reman and they would love to beat us.”

SHREWSBURY (v Dorridge): S Leach, T Cox, J Leach, R Foster, A Blofield, A Parker, D Jones, M Barnard, E Green, C Morris, S Griffiths.

Super Sam’s seven sets up Reman clash

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Captain Rob Foster is confident Shrewsbury’s Birmingham League fortunes will soon pick up despite a disappointing start to the defence of their premier division title.

Shrewsbury have lost both of their opening league games with a heavy first day defeat against West Bromwich Dartmouth followed by a closer three-wicket reverse at Brockhampton last weekend.

But there was some welcome cheer for the London Roaders as a heavily depleted side featuring a host of youngsters and just two first teamers won by 57 runs at Penkridge in the first round of the ECB National Club Championship on Sunday.

Sam Griffiths was the hero with a stunning seven-wicket haul to set up an eagerly awaited second round clash against county town neighbours Reman Services from the Shropshire County Cricket League at Albert Road on Sunday.

But Foster is now keen that his team deliver an opening league win of the season at home to Dorridge on Saturday (noon).
Shrewsbury were invited to bat first at Brockhampton and were dismissed for 196 in the 50th over.

Opener Steve Leach top scored with 53 from 69 balls, cracking 10 boundaries in the process, but the only other notable contributors were skipper Foster (36) and Ed Foster (25).

It looked like it might still be a big enough total when Brock stumbled to 127-7, but Herefordshire batsman Ben Stebbings, who ended unbeaten on 91, dominated an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 70 to lead the hosts to 197-7.

There were two wickets apiece for Dewi Jones (2-28), Elliot Green (2-34) and Charlie Morris (2-47) but it was not enough to prevent Shrewsbury from losing a second successive defeat.

Foster said: “It was still disappointing to lose but on reflection there were a lot more positives with our cricket than the week previously.

“Steve Leach played well for his 50 and the two spinners Charlie Morris and Elliot Green bowled very well.

“We just let it slip at a key period. They were 130-7 and we really should have sealed the game off then and won it.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t quite drive it home, but their captain (Stebbings) played a fantastic knock.

“He guested for us last year in the Salop Leisure Twenty20. He’s a good friend of Mike Barnard’s as they were at university together and he gets on well with everyone at the club.

“We missed a few chances at key moments and we’re just a little bit off from being more competitive. We should have put a few more on the board which probably would have taken the game out of their reach.”

Foster was one of five Shrewsbury players on Shropshire duty on Sunday but was delighted to hear a patched up team claimed an impressive 57 run KO victory at Penkridge.

William Davies top scored with 46 while George Hargrave (30), stand-in captain Steve Leach (23) and Henry Rose (21) helped push the score up to 146.

Former Shelton paceman Griffiths then grabbed 7-51 and there was a couple of wickets for Alex Johnson (2-35) as the hosts were skittled for 89 inside 16 overs, with former Shropshire all-rounder Attiq Chisti left stranded on 41 not out.

Meanwhile, a half century from captain Jon Anders was unable to save SHREWSBURY II from a 17 run defeat at home to Brockhampton II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division.

Shrewsbury, who travel to Old Hill II on Saturday, pulled up just short on 219-9 in reply to the visitors’ 236-9.

Rob Foster

Several changes ahead of Knowle and Dorridge visit

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury wheel out the big guns for Saturday’s Graham Williamson Trophy second round tie at home to much fancied Knowle & Dorridge (12.30pm).

Skipper Rob Foster together with fellow regulars Ed Foster, Steve Leach, Steve Barnard and Sam Griffiths all return after missing last weekend’s first round win at West Bromwich Dartmouth in which England under-19 prospect Ed Barnard shone.

All-rounder Alex Blofield, one of the club’s many Shropshire regulars, is unavailable.

The match with K&D will be Shrewsbury’s last ahead of beginning the defence of their Birmingham League premier division at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth a week on Saturday, April 26.

“Knowle & Dorridge finished third last year and they’ve strengthened over the winter,” said Shrewsbury skipper Foster. “They’ve brought in Michael Hill, an Australian from Victoria who recently played in the Big Bash as their overseas player.

“He’s a dangerous player, a batsman, who likes to give it a whack, and they’ve also signed Warwickshire’s Paul Best, another good player.

“It’s as tough a test we could have early season and it will be a good marker for both teams to see where we’re at.”

Foster added he was delighted by teenager Barnard’s fine start to the season with his polished knock of 98 laying the foundations for last weekend’s victory.

“It’s no surprise to see Ed get a score like that,” he said. “It’s his biggest score for the first team so far but he’s already experienced playing at such a high level with England’s under-19s.”

Foster’s older brother, Ed, was quickly back in the groove, too, cracking 118 at the top of the order for Shropshire in last Sunday’s warm up win over Staffordshire at Shifnal.

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

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.

Ed Foster

Foster century helps Shrewsbury maintain lead

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

RUN MACHINE Ed Foster helped himself to his second century in as many weeks as Shrewsbury stayed well out in front at the top of the Birmingham League’s premier division.

A week on from hitting a club record 169 against Kidderminster, the imperious Foster was at it again, his class shining through, as Shrewsbury collected 17 points from a winning draw at Barnt Green.

The ultra consistent opener cracked 105 to take his number of Birmingham League runs this season to 636.

“Ed’s playing fantastically at the moment,” said Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster, his younger brother. “His talent is shining through and having spent a lot of time in the middle against Kidderminster this was another great innings.

“He’s seeing the ball really well and the pitches are very good which suits him.”

Foster, who hit nine fours, and Steve Leach, in good touch for 58, put on 135 for the first wicket.

Zain Shahid, who claimed 5-55, helped peg them back a little, but Shrewsbury still managed to post an impressive 263-6 from their 55 overs with Rob Foster (25), Matt Swift (24) and Anthony Parker (20no) also contributing.

Barnt Green, in reply, were quickly in trouble at 34-3 and 62-5 with former Shelton man Sam Griffiths, opening the bowling in the absence of Worcestershire’s in-form Joe Leach, grabbing 3-32.

Steve Barnard, the hero of the dramatic fightback win over Chorley in the ECB National Club Championship the previous Sunday, was also to the fore with 2-32.

But then the home side rallied thanks to 72 from Warwickshire’s Australian under-19 star Sam Hain and an unbeaten 65 from skipper Andy Sutton as they closed on 198-7.

“Sam bowled very well at the top of the order with Steve Barnard,” said the captain. “Alex Johnson also came in and bowled well, beating the edge a few times, but he didn’t have a lot of luck.

“We didn’t perhaps have our best day in the field as we dropped a couple of chances but it happens sometimes.

“We were happy to come away with 17 points and would have taken it at the start of the day and it was really a game we dominated from start to finish.”

Shrewsbury are 38 points clear of second placed Brockhampton ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Knowle & Dorridge who sit fourth.

It’s also a big day for Shrewsbury on Sunday as they battle it out with Ombersley, their semi final opponents, Dorridge and West Bromwich Dartmouth at finals day of the Birmingham League’s Twenty20KO at Bromsgrove.