Joe Leach back among the Shropshire stars
Joe Leach was back on county duty for Shropshire when he handed out the awards at the Cricket Board’s annual presentation night.
The former Shrewsbury and Shropshire all-rounder enjoyed a summer to remember having skippered Worcestershire to promotion to the top flight of country cricket.
And he was delighted to be part of the celebration of another fine year for Shropshire cricket.
The Pears captain took part in a question and answer session as he shared a few secrets from the pro game and caught up with numerous friends and coaches who helped him during his formative years as a cricketer.
“Nights like these are great and it’s great to see all the award winners, but I think the best thing is to see the volunteers acknowledged,” said Leach, whose brother Steve captains Shropshire and plays for Shifnal.
“If you look at those OSCAs (Outstanding Service to Cricket) it shows that cricket in Shropshire is alive and kicking.
“It’s been very successful the past few years, not only the senior side but also the pathway.
“You only have to look at Worcester to see the players that have come through from Shropshire. It’s a massive feather in the cap of the cricket board and nights like this are just a celebration of that.”
Leach enjoyed great success during his playing days in Shropshire both with Shrewsbury School and Birmingham League outfit Shrewsbury on his way to joining the professional ranks at New Road.
And the route has proved a popular one in recent years with Jack Shantry and Ed Barnard having established themselves as key men at Worcester, as well as Joe Clarke.
And there are high hopes Shrewsbury duo Dillon Pennington and Ollie Westbury will join them in the not too distant future, while another talented London Road youngster, George Panayi, made his debut for Warwickshire’s first team last summer. For Leach that success shows the youngsters who were in attendance at Telford’s Whitehouse Hotel what can be achieved.
“I think it’s very important for nine and 10-year-olds to see that it’s an accessible thing to do,” said Leach.
“Juniors from the counties have had the luxury of that pathway, so for Shropshire to forge the relationship they have with Worcester is brilliant. It’s good for these youngsters to see that performances mean you have a chance of making it into the professional game.
“And Shropshire is lucky to have the coaches in place that can provide the necessary test for juniors to progress through.
“That’s the whole point of having that pathway, giving kids exposure to what it takes to play first class cricket.
“Hopefully in the case of Joe and Barney they can go on even further.”
Awards were handed out to the player of the year in the various boys’ and girls’ age groups as well as Shropshire Star players of the year, disability, coaching and outstanding contribution and the annual OSCAs.
Jan Griffiths picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award for her superb and tireless work at Shelton CC.
And Darren Shimmons’ outstanding contribution to Albrighton Cricket Club was also recognised with the Heartbeat of The Club accolade. Not only has he helped the cricket club, he also heads up the Albrighton CC Community Fund that has raised over £12,000 for various charities and worthy causes.
Rod Jones’ coaching talents were also saluted with an Outstanding Contribution to Coaching Award. Shropshire Cricket Board general manager Phil Lloyd deemed the evening a huge hit. “It was a very successful evening and the feedback we have received has been very good,” said Lloyd. “Everyone seemed to enjoy the night and it was great that Joe came along to present the awards.”
And Lloyd believes the future looks bright for cricket in the county. “It was a good summer on and off the field while there was quite a lot of change in the offices with new personnel coming in he added.
“I think as a county we have always punched above our weight and Shropshire cricket continues to grow. The future looks good. We are lucky that we have a lot of good schools who are very supportive and very pro-active with regards to cricket.
“It’s great to se so many Shropshire boys in the Worcestershire set up and our coaches get a lot of satisfaction seeing them play and do well in the first class game, and in Joe Clarke’s and Ed Barnard’s case represent England at various levels. Hopefully there will be a few more Shropshire players breaking through in the future.
“It was good of Joe to come along and present the awards and take a few questions.
“He has been to a few events of ours in the past and I think he is very appreciative of the help he had when he played his cricket in Shropshire.”
Who won what – the list of award winners:
Girls Under-11: Amy Griffiths; Under13: Emily Day; Under-15: Ellie Micklewright; Under-17: Lara Jones
Boys Under-10: Harrison Vaughan; Under-11: Jack Home; Under-12: Luke Bahia; Under-13: Will Lewin; Under-14: Joseph Pattenden; Under-15: Harry Astley; Under-17: Sam Ellis
Disability D40: Kevin Baker
Disability S9: Dave Ingram
Coaching Association Young Coach of the Year: Tyler Ibbotson
Coaching Association Outstanding Contribution to Coaching: Rod Jones
OSCAs (Oustanding Service to Cricket awards)
Young Volunteer: Harvey Pyke (Calverhall)
Heartbeat: Darren Shimmons (Albrighton)
Get The Game On: Alex Pyke (Calverhall)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Jan Griffiths (Shelton)
Shropshire Star Awards
Junior Girls’ Player of the Year: Ellie Micklewright
Junior Boys’ Player of the Year: Joseph Pattenden
Women’s Player of the Year: Lara Jones
Young Player of the Year: Sam Ellis
Gerry Gladwell Wicketkeeper Award: Sam Papps
All Stars Club of the Year: Willey CC
Women’s Softball: Becky Davidson.
Clubmark accreditation: Albrighton, Broseley, Condover, Frankton, Knockin & Kinnerley, Ludlow, Madeley, Newport, Pontesbury, St George’s, Sentinel, Shifnal, Wellington, Wem, Whitchurch, Wroxeter Grove