Steve Barnard

Steve Barnard returns for Dorridge trip

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury captain Rob Foster insists his team’s first priority is picking up enough points to ensure they are not dragged into a relegation scrap in the Birmingham Cricket League premier division.

Foster concedes Shrewsbury, who travel to Dorridge on Saturday, have little chance of making it back-to-back titles given they trail leaders West Bromwich Dartmouth by 75 points.

His first target, he admits, is trying to widen the current 16 point gap between Shrewsbury, who are eighth in the table, and second-bottom Walsall.

“First of all, it’s about stopping up,” said Foster, whose side were washed out without a ball bowled at home to Brockhampton last weekend. “You can quickly get dragged into something so we just need to get a few wins as soon as we can to give us a bit of a breathing space really.”

Foster hopes one of them will come on Saturday at a Dorridge side two places and eight points above them in the table, not that he’s expecting anything other than a tough game.

“They’ve picked up quite a bit,” he said. “They were a bit short when we beat them at home earlier in the season but they’ve had people like Laurie Evans, a regular at Warwickshire, playing quite often for them recently.”

Shrewsbury, whose second team host Old Hill II on Saturday, will be without unavailable batsman Tom Cox but influential all-rounder Steve Barnard is poised to return.

Shrewsbury, meanwhile, booked their place in the final of the Salop Leisure Twenty20 Knockout Trophy by beating Whitchurch by seven wickets in front of a big London Road crowd.

They will now have home advantage for the final against Owestry next Friday, August 1 (6.15pm).

Having restricted Whitchurch to a modest 97-8 from their 20 overs, Shrewsbury had few problems advancing to 103-3.

Guest player Kim Rose, an Aussie who plays for Shelton in the Shropshire League, top scored with an unbeaten 23 while there were also contributions from Anthony Parker (21no), Ed Barnard (20) and Patrick Butler (20).

“It was great to see a good crowd there,” added Foster. “It was quite a one-sided game but it should be a good final against Oswestry.”

Elsewhere, Shrewsbury duo Steve Leach and spinner Charlie Morris, a debutant, were both part of the Shropshire side which beat Cornwall by six wickets in the Unicorns Championship at St Austell this week.

Leach, the opening batsman, top scored with 72 as Shropshire were bowled out for 300 in their first innings.

Cornwall were removed for 188 and 203 either side as former Yorkshire paceman Ben Sanderson grabbed seven wickets in each innings for brilliant match figures of 14 for 108 from 35.5 overs.

Despite a couple of early wobbles, Shropshire, next in action against Devon at Exeter between August 3 and 5, had few problems in reaching their victory target at 92-4 as they achieved back-to-back Championship wins.

SHREWSBURY: E Foster, S Leach, E Barnard, R Foster (captain), A Parker, S Barnard, D Jones, M Barnard, E Green, S Griffiths, C Morris.

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.”

Steve Barnard

Steve Barnard steers Shrewsbury to fifth Williamson final

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chroncile

Steve Barnard’s batting exploits sent Shrewsbury through to yet another Graham Williamson Trophy final on a weekend which brought more disappointment for the reigning champions in the Birmingham League.

The London Roaders slipped into the premier division’s bottom two after losing heavily by 118 runs at home to Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday.

But there was better news 24 hours later as all-rounder Barnard’s unbeaten 68 helped Shrewsbury beat Kidderminster by two wickets to set up a final against Walmley on a date to be arranged in the Graham Williamson Trophy.

Shrewsbury can do no wrong in this competition having won it for the last four years but their Midas touch, for the time being at least, has temporarily deserted them in the league.

Kidderminster batted first on Sunday and posted 197-8 as they were kept in check by three wickets apiece from Aussie Patrick Butler and youngster Jack Garmson.

Shrewsbury, in reply, lost a flurry of early wickets but Tom Cox steadied the ship with 31 before Barnard, at No 7, saw the job through in style, his unbeaten 68 steering the hosts to 198-8 with eight balls to spare.

“Steve really won us the game which was pleasing to see,” said captain Rob Foster. “He also bowled well and we were happy to get through to the final once again.”

It was an ideal pick me up for Shrewsbury after their worrying batting frailties were again ruthlessly exposed in the league on Saturday when they were dismissed for just 104 in reply to Knowle & Dorridge’s 222-7.

The visitors, invited to bat first, were in early trouble at 38-2 with the usually free-scoring Alex Phillips and overseas ace Michael Hill, a big star for Victoria in Australian’s Big Bash competition, both failling cheaply to Dewi Jones (2-40).

Shrewsbury still looked in the driving seat with K&D precariously placed at 94-5 despite a rapid 63 from 45 balls by opener Richard Johnson, a regular in first class cricket for Derbyshire.

But then captain David Smith (65) and Jack Grundy (61) joined forces to put on 125 for the sixth wicket as Shrewsbury found themselves chasing a much bigger target than they would have envisaged at one stage.

Mike Barnard, making his first league appearance of the season, backed up the early efforts of Jones by taking 2-33 and there were a couple of late victims for Elliot Green (2-43).

Shrewsbury, in reply, quickly had that sinking feeling once again as wickets fell all too regularly.

Welshman Jones top scored with a hard-hitting 35 from 44 balls at No 8 but otherwise meaningful support was in short supply.

Ed Foster, fresh from cracking a glorious century for a Birmingham League representative XI against a Worcestershire XI at Bromsgrove, departed for 15.

Then Joe Leach, making a welcome return from playing for Worcestershire in the County Championship, struck a couple of crisp boundaries before being caught for 18 as Shrewsbury again struggled to impose themselves with the bat, just managing to limp into three figures.

Will Mottram inflicted much of the damage by taking 3-44 as Shrewsbury dropped to 11th place in the table ahead of Saturday’s trip to Walsall.

Skipper Foster conceded: “We just didn’t bat very well again unfortunately. Everyone seems to be out of form at the same time, but everyone has got previous in terms of scoring runs so it will come good again for us.

“We had them 90-5 and potentially we were looking at getting them out for about 150 but then the two lads who both got 60 for them in the middle order came in and played well, not giving any chances.

“We then lost early wickets again so were always under pressure.

“It was disappointing because at the halfway stage we thought we were in a good position on a good pitch, but they bowled well.”

Meanwhile, it was an equally disappointing day for SHREWSBURY II last Saturday as they crashed to the bottom of the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division table with a crushing 261 run defeat at leaders Knowle & Dorridge II.

Shrewsbury’s youngsters were shot out for 46 inside 22 overs with little resistance once captain Jon Anders, the opener, departed for 20.

The hosts earlier racked up a formidable 307-3 declared from 39 overs.

Opener Dominic Harding led the onslaught with an unbeaten 150 and John Price added 96. Jack Garmson plugged away to take 2-50.

Shrewsbury’s second sting host fourth-placed Wolverhampton II on Saturday.

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.

Anthony Parker

Parker sets record as Shrewsbury collect trophy

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

CHAMPIONS Shrewsbury are now a massive 90 points clear at the top of the Birmingham Cricket League’s premier division after handing out a nine-wicket beating to Brockhampton just before skipper Rob Foster was presented with the title trophy.

And it was also a rewarding day for consistent wicketkeeper Anthony Parker as he set a new club Birmingham League record for the most dismissals in a season.

It was another dominant display from the London Roaders with England under-19 star Ed Barnard making a pleasing return to first team action following a long injury lay-off.

Opening batsman Steve Leach again underlined his promise with another fine knock, Steve Barnard bowled sharply to claim four wickets and then there was wicketkeeper Parker’s record.

The Shropshire glovesman, who ended a long association with Shifnal to join Shrewsbury this season, held on to three catches and completed a sharp stumping to take his number of league victims this term to 35.

It broke the previous club record of 32 dismissals achieved by Jack Brydon in the 2008 season with Parker’s contribution highlighted by skipper Foster.

He always knew Parker would add much to the Shrewsbury side which is why he was so pleased to entice him to London Road as a replacement for popular South African Ryan Bishop.

“It just shows how well he has kept,” said Foster. “He’s been superb behind the stumps and I can’t think of anything he’s missed all season.

“He’s been a great addition and has changed the dynamic of our side as he’s just got that X-factor down the order when he bats that takes games away from people while behind the stumps he’s a proven winner.

“Bish was a tough act to follow, but he’s done very well.”

Brockhampton, one of only two teams to have beated Shrewsbury in the league this season, never looked like conjuring up a repeat once Steve Barnard (4-38) reduced them to 44-4.

Ben Stebbings (46) and Dave Exall (25), two of Brock’s many Herefordshire Minor Counties regulars, attempted to lead a fightback, but Shrewsbury were always on top as they removed the visitors for 136.

There were also wickets for Sam Griffiths (2-24), Dan Manders (2-35) and Mike Barnard (2-37).

Shrewsbury, in reply, quickly lost Ed Foster for 12, but not before he had broken his own Birmingham League record of runs in a season. He now has 857 this year.

That brought together teenagers Steve Leach and Ed Barnard and they shared in an unbroken second-wicket stand of 111 as Shrewsbury eased to 139-1 and 20 more points against a side who had started the day in second place in the table.

Leach carried his bat for an unbeaten 61 from 106 balls, passing 700 league runs for the season in the process, while Barnard played like he had never been away for 46 not out.

Skipper Foster, whose side head to West Bromwich Dartmouth on Saturday, hailed it as a another complete team performance.

“Steve Barnard really led the way with the ball, taking four quality wickets, and he was well backed up,” he said. “Then the batting was just clinical with Steve Leach superb again and so was Ed Barnard. It was very pleasing for everyone to see him back in a Shrewsbury shirt.”

Meanwhile, a day after being presented with the Birmingham League championship trophy, Shrewsbury skipper Rob Foster took delivery of more silverware as he lifted the Salop Leisure Twenty20 prize.

Shrewsbury, no strangers to success in the popular annual competition held at their London Road headquarters, beat Oswestry comfortably in the semi finals before seeing off Shifnal, last four conquerors of Whitchurch, in the final.

Sam Griffiths was the leading light for the county towners in the semi final, snaring 4-13, while there was also some success for Ed Foster (2-7) and Alex Johnson (2-18) as Oswestry were bowled out for 69.

Shrewsbury then eased to 71-3 inside nine overs with Brockhampton captain Ben Stebbings, their one permitted guest player, hitting an unbeaten 47.

That set up a Shrewsbury v Shifnal final later in the day and the hosts prevailed by six wickets.

Shifnal batted first and decent contributions from their South African guest Morne Heyneke (39), who captains Brewood, and Simon Gregory (30) pushed the total up to 134-9 from their 20 overs.

Mike Barnard (3-20) and Dan Manders (3-28) bowled well for Shrewsbury while ex-Cound man Johnson removed county captain Richard Oliver for just five.

Shrewsbury then chased well to reach 136-4 with 20 balls to spare as Will Parton (39no), Ed Foster (32) and Steve Barnard (17no) led the way.

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.”

Steve Barnard

Shrewsbury snatch remarkable National KO victory

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY, who just never give up, grabbed an astonishing victory from the jaws of defeat to set up an exciting quarter final tie at home to West Indian Cavaliers in the quarter finals of the ECB National Club Championship.

Missing a host of first team regulars, the players drafted in to the side dug deep as allrounder Steve Barnard delivered a stunning display to seal a dramatic four run win over Northern Premier League Chorley.

It seemed a formality the Lancastrians would progress when, replying to the home side’s 168-8, they were coasting at 145-1 with plenty of time and wickets to play with.

But then Shrewsbury turned the screw, two runs outs in as many balls changing the entire complexion of the tie, and with Barnard and his brother Mike keeping it tight with the ball, Chorley somehow ended short of their target on 164-6.

“It was unbelievable,” admitted delighted captain Rob Foster, one of only four regulars in the team. “They were cruising the game but we just went up a gear in the field really, and Steve’s death bowling along with Mike’s was just outstanding.

“We just gave ourselves the best chance to get a result.

“I didn’t think it was possible at some points in the game until there were four overs to go. We were just outstanding.

“I keep saying to the lads the longer we stay in the game the more chance there is for us.

“The decision to bat first after winning the toss was purely because pressure cricket does funny things to people on days like this, as we saw.

“Chorley should really have won that game but they just imploded through the pressure built by ourselves.”

Steve Barnard, at No 6, cracked an unbeaten 51 to give the hosts a fighting chance as Shrewsbury made 168-8 from their 45 overs. Skipper Foster (38) and Will Parton (29) also contributed.

Chorley, in reply, were sell set thanks to openers David Fisher (54) and Andy Griffiths (43).

Ian Dickinson then added 36 but it was his departure, caught by Steve Leach off Mike Barnard (2-23), which changed the course of the game.

It was the cue for Shrewsbury, roared on by a vocal band of supporters watching from the pavilion balcony, to produce a grandstand finish.

Steve Barnard (1-25), fittingly, bowled the final over and held his nerve, his pace too much for the visiting batsmen to get away.

“Steve was probably the difference in the game,” added Foster. “His death bowling and his knock were superb.

“He’s really stepped up this year and has gone to another level which is really good to see.

“Our team included seven lads who have been in the second team at times this season but they all stepped up. The quality is there throughout for the club and it’s a great feeling to have everyone included and to keep winning.”

Foster’s men are now relishing their last eight tie against Nottingham-based West Indian Cavaliers at London Road on Sunday, August 4 with the visitors able to call on former Notts stars Usman Afzaal and Bilal Shafayat, until recently Shropshire’s pro.

Shrewsbury memorably beat star-studded Cavaliers on their way to becoming national champs in 2011.