Shrops v Staffs Preview

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Last season’s beaten finalists Staffordshire start their bid to reach the 2017 final of the Unicorns Knock-Out trophy this Sunday (23rd April) with a trip to neighbouring Shropshire at Shrewsbury Cricket Club’s London Road ground.

Kadeer Ali continues to lead the team for a third successive season and he is anxious to get the campaign off to a winning start but knows they will face a stiff challenge despite facing a side that Staffs convincingly defeated last season in the group stages of the competition.

The Staffordshire 12 named for the match contains three newcomers including Warwickshire’s Sunny Singh who plays for Staffs club Smethwick. The 21 year-old left-arm spinner played for Warwickshire in their recent first class match against Oxford University and had match figures of 4-52 from 30 overs. He is joined in the squad by 23 year-old former Worcestershire and Surrey batsman Aneesh Kapil who has returned to play for his home town club Wolverhampton following his release by Surrey at the end of last season. Also included is Meakins left arm quick bowler Karl High who steps up to the full squad for the first time.

A number of the Staffs players have made club switches in the close season with Tim Maxfield and Michael Hill both joining North Staffs & South Cheshire club Whitmore from Walsall and Kidderminster respectively while Brinder Phagura has returned to play for West Bromwich Dartmouth after a season at Kenilworth Wardens. Experienced Greg Willott has joined Bagnall/Norton following his departure from Leek with Dan Richardson replacing him at Highfield Road after making the move from Meakins.

Also in the squad is the Leek pairing of wicket-keeper Tom Ball and off-spinner batsman Alex Thomson along with the County’s current leading run-scorer Peter Wilshaw.

The 50 over a side match commences at 11am and admission is free.

Staffordshire squad Kadeer Ali (West Bromwich Dartmouth), Aneesh Kapil (Wolverhampton), Peter Wilshaw (Meakins), Tim Maxfield (Whitmore), Alex Thomson (Leek), Michael Hill (Whitmore), Brinder Phagura (West Bromwich Dartmouth), Tom Ball (Leek), Sunny Singh (Warwickshire & Smethwick), Karl High (Meakins), Greg Willott (Bagnall/Norton), Dan Richardson (Leek).

Staffs hopes of getting in some early season practice were dashed last Sunday when their planned friendly against Cumberland at Leigh Cricket Club was abandoned due to persistent rain.

Staffs other group matches in the completion are Sunday 30th April v Wales at Himley CC, Sunday 7th May v Herefordshire at Eastnor CC and Sunday 21st May v Cheshire at Knypersley CC.

By Allan Smith

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