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.

Impressive Cox lays platform for Shrewsbury win

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Rob Foster, the Shrewsbury skipper, was delighted to see Tom Cox recapture his best form as the London Roaders moved to the brink of Birmingham League premier division safety with victory over Kidderminster.

Shrewsbury, washed out at title hopefuls Barnt Green on Monday, now know victory at Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday will make them mathematically safe as they sit 51 points clear of the bottom two with three games to play.

Cox was the star of the show as Kidderminster were beaten by 11 runs in a well contested clash at London Road last Saturday.

Batting at No 3, Cox just fell short of a richly deserved century, dismissed for 94 from 122 balls, a fine knock featuring a six and nine fours, as he lifted the Shrewsbury score up to 187 all out.

No other Shrewsbury player made it past 20 as Cox, eighth man out, held the innings together.

“Tom Cox was outstanding,” said skipper Foster. “It was as good a knock I’ve seen him play for a long time and he helped us put a score on the board as we didn’t bat well as a team.

“By his standards, he’s perhaps not got the runs he would have wanted this season, so it was pleasing to see him play so well.”

A rain interruption meant Kidderminster were set a revised victory target of 176 in 42 overs, but they fell short, dismissed for 164 with eight balls remaining.

Opener Richard Kimberlin top scored with 44 but Worcestershire’s Matt Pardoe, who has lost his place at the top of the New Road club’s batting order to former Shropshire skipper Richard Oliver, managed just 13 before being caught by Steve Leach off the bowling of Mike Barnard.

Shrewsbury were pleased to welcome back a Worcestershire player of their own in Joe Leach, but he took a back seat as the lion’s share of the wickets were shared between Dewi Jones (3-26), Sam Griffiths (3-28) and Elliot Green (3-37).

“It was good to get a win,” added Foster. “All the bowlers did really well and we also took some good catches.”

Meanwhile, improving Shrewsbury II host leaders Knowle & Dorridge II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division on Saturday chasing a great escape from relegation.

Shrewsbury’s second string hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with an impressive five run victory at Moseley II last Saturday but were then washed out at home to Barnt Green II on Monday.

Shrewsbury’s total of 208-9 just proved to be enough as Moseley were removed for 203.

George Panayi was the top performer for Shrewsbury, taking five wickets after earlier hitting 57, while the London Roaders were also well served with the bat by Henry Blofield, in good touch for 59, and Toby Jones (26).

It was a second successive victory for Shrewsbury after beating Attock a week earlier and they are 16 points adrift of safety with three games to play.

“We’ve given ourselves a bit of a chance,” said captain Jon Anders. “We’ve still got three of the top four to play in Knowle & Dorridge, Wolverhampton and Walmley.

Shrewsbury are without both Panayi and Blofield this weekend.

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.

Ed Barnard

Ed Barnard hits form in season opener

By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle

Ed Barnard produced the form which has made him a regular in the England under-19 side as Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury opened the new season with an excellent Graham Williamson Trophy win at West Bromwich Dartmouth.

Barnard, 18, fell just two runs short of a richly deserved century as Shrewsbury, winners of this competition for the last four years, chased impressively to seal a five-wicket verdict with a ball to spare.

Shrewsbury’s reward is a second round tie at home to Knowle & Dorridge at London Road on Saturday.

Barnard looked just like a man who has played regularly over the winter, most notably in the United Arab Emirates where he was ever present for England in the ICC under-19 World Cup as they eventually beat Australia in the third-place play-off match.

Set 207 for victory in 40 overs, Barnard came in first wicket down after young opener George Hargrave fell early.

He proceeded to put on 130 for the second wicket with stand-in captain Tom Cox, deputising for the unavailable Rob Foster, as Shrewsbury set about their chase with relish.

Cox, promoted to opener as Ed Foster and Steve Leach were also unavailable, played well to make 68 from 89 balls, hitting a six and seven fours.

And he kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely with star turn Barnard who plundered 98 from 110 deliveries, a sparkling knock from the Worcestershire prospect which featured two sixes and eight boundaries.

Alex Blofield (17no) and Elliot Green then held their nerve to see the job through as Shrewsbury timed their chase to perfection.

Cox had earlier allowed West Bromwich Dartmouth to bat first and the hosts rattled up 206-4 from their 40 overs which was built around steady contributions from Brinder Phagura (58), Rawlston Tappin (55) and Ruki de Silva (44).

Spinner Blofield claimed 2-68 while there was also a wicket apiece for new signings Charlie Morris (1-30) and Dewi Jones (1-31) from tighter eight over spells.

Shrewsbury’s strength in depth really shone through as the Foster brothers and Steve Leach were joined on the unavailable list by Steve and Mike Barnard.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury opener Ed Foster was in brilliant touch as he hit a fine century to help Shropshire claim victory by 35 runs over Staffordshire in last Sunday’s pre-season friendly at Shifnal.

Foster’s first knock of the season could not have gone much better as he made 118 from 137 balls, cracking 13 boundaries and a six.

Other contributions from his Shrewsbury team mates Joe Leach (46) and Rob Foster (29no) plus a quickfire, unbeaten 26 from skipper Richard Oliver down the order pushed the Shropshire total up to 274-6 from 50 overs.

Staffordshire were then restricted to 239-8 as Foster followed up his century by taking two wickets, as did Ben Sanderson and Jack Edwards.

Shropshire play their first competitive match of the season at Shrewsbury’s London Road ground on Sunday, May 4 when Lincolnshire provide the opposition in the first group game of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

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.”

Shrewsbury players celebrate the Birmingham League victory

Nine Green Wickets See Shrewsbury to Title

An exceptional display of leg-spin bowling by Elliott Green clinched the 2010 Premier Division title for Shrewsbury on a day of extraordinary twists and turns which left Walmley and Kenilworth Wardens in the relegation zone.

In a match reduced to 53 overs per side, Ed Foster and Joe Leach, both, scored 58, as Shrewsbury reached 196 for six at the close of their innings. Mark Mansell picked up three wickets for Kiddi, who looked favourites to take the title, themselves, when they reached 93 for one by the end of the 26th over. At that point, a heavy shower drove the players from the field and the home side’s innings was reduced to 47 overs. Enter Mr Green, who had, already, snapped up the wicket of Matt Pardoe (42).

He proceeded to turn the game in Shrewsbury’s favour, finishing with 9 for 77, as Kiddi pressed the self-destruct button. Craig Wood hit 46 but the remaining batsmen were unable to get to grips with Green, who returned the best bowling figures of the season.

Kiddi’s final total of 159 saw Shrewsbury win by 37 runs and, tomorrow, they will attempt to become just the second team to complete a League and Cup double when they take on Himley in the Final of the Graham Williamson Trophy. Last season’s Champions, Knowle & Dorridge finished as runners-up following a winning draw at Wellington.

K & D hit 123 for nine, in an innings limited to 30 overs, after a late start, with Attiq Chishti unbeaten on 50 and Wendell Wagner taking 3 for 17 for Wellington. Once Shrewsbury had won, the title was out of K & D’s reach but they restricted the home side to 118 for four, in 30 overs, to ensure they finished in second place.

At the bottom of the table, Walmley were relegated, early in the day, at Wolverhampton. Needing to restrict the Danescourt outfit to three points and take 24, themselves, Walmley declared on 79 for eight but their gamble failed to pay off, as Wolverhampton won by five wickets. Wolverhampton appeared to be cruising to an easy victory on 47 without loss but four wickets in seven balls (including a hat-trick) by Hamza Nadeem reduced them to 48 for four.

Nadeem finished with 4 for 31 but 34 from Anish Kapil was enough to see Wolverhampton to safety. Dan Bassett hit 61 but Walsall’s Paul Wicker (4 for 61) and Paul Byrne (4 for 33) combined to dismiss Himley for 179 to give their side an escape route from relegation. Paul Baker’s 66 saw Walsall to a three wicket win which took them to 215 points.

Results, elsewhere, meant that Walsall were reliant on Kenilworth Wardens failing to obtain five points from their game with Barnt Green and they were left sweating right to the end. In a match reduced to 33 overs each side, Carl Crowe (75) and Nathan Newport (49) saw Barnt Green to 175 for four, which left Wardens requiring a minimum of 160 to draw level with Walsall and escape the trap-door due to winning one more game than their rivals. After 24 overs, two further overs were lost to rain and an abandonment at that stage would have saved Wardens. The weather relented and Wardens struggled to 141 for nine, finishing with 214 points, one point adrift of safety. Barnt Green’s Stephen Bevan finished with 4 for 58.

Both Smethwick and Moseley went into their last game, looking over their shoulders, but both sides had acquired enough points to reach safety by the time that the game came to a premature close, due to rain, with Moseley on 59 for one, in response to Smethwick’s 192, which owed much to an elegant 79 from Mo Sheikh.