Elliot Green

Quick win at Walmley completes season

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Shrewsbury were in no mood to hang around as they eased to their second emphatic victory over Walmley in as many weeks to end their Birmingham League premier division season in style – but skipper Rob Foster admitted it had not been the season he was hoping for.

He was optimistic Shrewsbury could made a decent fist of retaining the title they won so impressively last season, but a slow start put paid to those ambitions.

The county towners started to show what they could do in the second half of the season, impressively rallying to eventually finish fourth in the top-flight, but Foster insisted it had been a frustrating campaign.

“It’s been disappointing in my eyes,” said Foster. “Having won the league so comfortably last year, I was hopeful we could do well again.

“We lost a few close games early on without playing well and some of our performances earlier in the season were pretty ordinary so it’s frustrating when you look back.

“Apart from winning the Graham Williamson Trophy again, we’ve not had too much to shout about so it’s not been a hugely successful season.”

At least Shrewsbury managed to end on a positive note as, having coasted to a 113 run victory in the Graham Williamson Trophy final at London Road six days earlier, Shrewsbury once more proved too strong for Walmley to seal a convincing eight-wicket away win.

Shrewsbury needed less than 16 overs to reach their victory target of 145-2, completing their chase in little more than an hour.

Ed Foster led the way with a sparkling 57 from 31 balls, hitting seven fours and three sixes, as he shared in an opening stand of 74 in just 8.1 overs with Steve Leach (36).

England under-19 regular Ed Barnard missed out on the fun and games with the bat, making just four, but Alex Blofield most certainly didn’t as he once more showed his liking for the Walmley bowling.

Blofield smashed a quickfire 39 not out from just 17 deliveries – two sixes and six fours – as Shrewsbury chalked up one of their easiest wins of the season.

Spinner Elliot Green had earlier claimed an eye-catching 5-17 and Blofield helped himself to 2-18 as Walmley, despite 61 from James Brocklebank, were dismissed for 143.

“We played well, especially the way we batted, to get it done so quickly,” added skipper Foster. “There was some pretty good hitting.”

Meanwhile, already relegated Shrewsbury II closed their Birmingham League premier reserve division campaign with a welcome win, beating Walmley II by four wickets at London Road.

Having dismissed the visitors for 190, Shrewsbury’s second string made assured progress to 193-6 thanks to an unbeaten century from Charlie Farquhar.

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.

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.

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.

Steve Leach

Steve Leach makes first class debut against Nottinghamshire

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Steve Leach, the young Shrewsbury batsman, is currently enjoying his debut in first class cricket for Oxford University in a three-day match against Nottinghamshire due to finish today (Thursday).

The London Road opener was out for nine, trapped lbw by Harry Gurney, on the opening day of the match at The Parks as Oxford were bowled out for 102 in responde to a Notts first innings total of 237 all out.

Leach, the younger brother of Shrewsbury’s Worcestershire all-rounder Joe, held on to a catch to remove Riki Wessels while the Notts side he’s up against also features two former England players in Samit Patel and Chris Read.

Leach top scored for Oxford with 28 as they were well beaten in a friendly by Leicestershire last week.

The 20-year-old batsman was previously attached to Worcestershire but left the New Road club midway through an otherwise successful last season in which he scored heavily to help Shrewsbury win the Birmingham League.

He also weighed in consistently with the bat for Shropshire in the Minor Counties Championship.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury are one of a number of local cricket clubs taking part in the annual NatWest Cricket Force day on Saturday.

Club members will be sprucing up the London Road ground ahead of the new season from 9am and they would be delighted to welcome anyone keen to lend a hand.

Steve Leach

Steve Leach takes Birmingham League young player award

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY’S promising young batsman Steve Leach, eyeing a career in professional cricket, has been named as the Birmingham League’s young player of the year.

Leach, who will receive his award at the League’s AGM on January 22, said he was delighted to be recognised for the role he played in helping Shrewsbury be crowned premier division champions.

Leach, 20, the younger brother of Shrewsbury’s Worcestershire all-rounder Joe, struck 831 premier division runs for the London Roaders in 2013 at a healthy average of 43.74.

Only his Shrewsbury opening partner Ed Foster, who plundered 874 runs, and Knowle & Dorridge’s Alex Phillips, who hit 846 runs, bettered Leach’s return with the bat in the top-flight last season.

“It was a very pleasing season with Shrewsbury but the runs wouldn’t have mattered so much had we not won the league,” Leach told the Chronicle.

“It was nice to be able to contribute and it was a very pleasant surprise when I found out I had won this award.

“Quite a few of the Shrewsbury lads have gained recognition for what was an excellent season for the club.

“I want to score even more runs next season and I must admit I’m already really looking forward to it.

“I had played for 18 months solid having spent last winter in Australia but I’ve had a break now and I can’t wait to get back playing again.”

In some ways, admits Leach, it was a bitter sweet season for him as while he shone with the bat for Shrewsbury and also impressed for Shropshire in the Minor Counties Championship, he was disappointed to leave Worcestershire.

But as one door shuts, Leach is hopeful another one may open soon as he sets his sights on following his brother Joe into the County Championship.

Leach is currently strudying business and sport management at Oxford Brookes University which will also allow him to play cricket at a high standard.

He’s already focusing on the matches his university side will play against Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire at The Parks early next season.

“I’ll be looking to get in the side and do as well as I can in those two games,” he said. “The aim for me is to definitely go on and play professional cricket.”

Leach added seeing what his brother has achieved at Worcestershire over the last two summers also serves as a major motivational tool.

“I’ve seen Joe put the hard yards in and he’s doing really well,” he said.

Steve Leach

MCCC awards for Shrewsbury trio

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

A TRIO of Shrewsbury players have received top Midlands Club Cricket Conference awards, with opening batsman Ed Foster insisting the recognition is well deserved.

Shrewsbury swept aside strong competition to be crowned Birmingham League champions with three games to spare in a campaign which also them reach the quarter finals of the ECB National Club Championship.

Now skipper Rob Foster, who could not have wished for a much more successful start at the helm, and promising young opening batsman Steve Leach have both won MCCC Cricketer of the Year awards.

There’s also silverware on the way for consistent wicketkeeper Anthony Parker who has scooped the Esmond Lewis Wicketkeeper of the Year award.

The awards will be presented at a dinner in Birmingham in March.

“It’s great recognition for the players involved but also for the club,” said Ed Foster, whose total of 874 runs made him the top run scorer in the Birmingham League premier division last season.

Five players from across the region are selected for Cricketer of the Year awards each year, with Rob Foster and Leach both getting the nod this time.

“Aside from the captaincy which he took to very well, Rob had a great season with the bat,” said Foster, of his younger brother. “He played some explosive and very effective innings at times but he also batted very responsibly when he needed to.

“The time Steve Leach spent in Australia last winter really helped his development and last season was his first big one in adult cricket.
“He came third in the list of run scorers in the premier division with more than 800 runs, a fantastic achivement for someone so young.

“We’re fortunate to have him at the club and, while it’s disappointing he’s not involved with the professional game at the moment having left Worcestershire, I’m sure another opportunity will come his way at some stage.”

Parker, the long-serving glovesman for Shropshire, played a key role behind the stumps for Shrewsbury in his first season with the club after making the switch from Shifnal.

Foster added: “It’s great for the bowlers to know there’s someone who will take the chances they provide. You won’t find a better wicket-keeper batsman in the league than Anthony.

“Anthony was excited to come and play for Shrewsbury as he’s a fierce competitor who wanted to come and play for a side challenging for trophies.”

Shrewsbury are no strangers to picking up MCCC winners and Elliot Green, their talented leg spinner, was named overall Cricketer of the Year, the top prize available, for 2012.

John Foster, Ed Foster and Steve Gale, all former Shrewsbury captains, have also won the prestigious award in the past.

Steve Leach

Leach ton can’t save Shrewsbury from defeat

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

STEVE LEACH once more underlined his potential to be a professional cricketer by hitting his third century of the season, but it was not enough to save Birmingham League premier division champions Shrewsbury from sliding to a rare defeat.

Promising opener Leach, 19, who asked to be released from his Worcestershire contract earlier this season, was at his brilliant best once again as he broke through the 800 run barrier in the Birmingham League this year with another polished knock.

But hosts West Bromwich Dartmouth chased well to seal a six-wicket win at Sandwell Park, reaching their target with eight balls to spare.

It was only a third league defeat of the season for Shrewsbury who are 74 points clear at the top of the table ahead of Saturday’s final match of the campaign at home to relegated Wombourne.

One more victory will see Shrewsbury set a new record points total for any team in a premier division season.

Skipper Rob Foster was disappointed with the result but delighted with the efforts of Leach who recently struck a century in a trial game for Warwickshire’s 2nd XI.

“Steve was outstanding again,” said Foster. “He’s playing really well and his hundred was even more impressive given it was a tough wicket.

“He’s done fantastically well for us this season, scoring more than 800 league runs, and there surely has to be a few first class counties taking note of that.”

Batting first, Shrewsbury were struggling at 82-5 until Leach and skipper Foster joined forces to put on 114 for the sixth wicket.

Leach led the way with an excellent 113 to take his tally of league runs for the season to 819.

And he was well supported by Foster, at No 7, who hit an unbeaten 54 as Shrewsbury posted 211-8 from their 50 overs.

West Bromwich, in reply, were also well served by a three figure partnership with regular Warwickshire first teamer Ateeq Javed, in good touch for 77, and Zeeshan Arif (47no) laying the foundations for the hosts to advance to 214-4.

Mike Barnard grabbed 2-46 but this time Shrewsbury were unable to come out on top.

“It was disappointing to lose as we don’t like losing any game,” stressed skipper Foster. “It’s been a long season and, for us, it did have a very end of season feel to it.

“We might have lost the game but there was also still a very good chance to could have won it.

“They always had a few wickets in hand but it was closer than the result might suggest.

“Their overseas player hit a few sixes towards the end and Ateeq Javed played well, but he’s a guy who’s just recently scored a first class hundred.

“We had Joe Leach back playing for us so again it shows the standard of cricket we’re playing at, a Warwickshire player up against a Worcestershire player.”

Shrewsbury now want to sign off their successful season in style at the expense of Wombourne on Saturday before hosting Barnt Green in the final of the Graham Williamson Trophy 24 hours later.

Steve Leach

Shrewsbury seek double celebration

By Stuart Dunn, @studunn21, at The Shrewsbury Chronicle

SHREWSBURY’S cricketers are seeking a double celebration as they bring the curtain down on their successful season this weekend.

The London Roaders, who wrapped up the Birmingham League title with three games to spare, know victory in Saturday’s final premier division game at home to relegated Wombourne will see them set a new record high points total by any team in top flight history.

Then they take on Barnt Green, once again with home advantage, in the Graham Williamson Trophy final (12.30pm).

“We’ve won this competition three years on the trot,” said captain Rob Foster. “It would be nice to make it four and end the season with another trophy.”

Shrewsbury received a bye through to the final after Berkswell, their scheduled semi-final opponents, were unable to play on any of the dates offered them by the Birmingham League.

If Shrewsbury are to get their hands of yet more silverware, their strength in depth will need to come into its own as openers Ed Foster and Steve Leach – who have both hit more than 800 league runs this season – are unavailable for Sunday’s Trophy final.

Wicketkeeper Anthony Parker and all-rounder Alex Blofield are among the other non-starters as Shrewsbury’s selection options are stretched.

Foster is also keen for his side end their excellent league campaign with another positive result against Wombourne, particularly as Shrewsbury tasted defeat for just the third time this season at West Bromwich Dartmouth last weekend.

“We would love to finish with another win,” added the skipper.

SHREWSBURY (v Wombourne), from: E Foster, S Leach, J Leach, T Cox, R Foster, A Parker, A Blofield, S Barnard, E Green, S Griffiths, M Barnard, W Parton, D Manders.