Ollie Westbury leaving Shrewsbury to return to Himley
PROMISING Worcestershire and Shropshire opening batsman Ollie Westbury has decided to leave Shrewsbury to return home to play for Himley.
The England Under-19 international, a regular in Worcestershire’s second team, has spent the last two seasons playing his club cricket at London Road. He helped Shrewsbury finish runners-up to Knowle & Dorridge in the Birmingham Premier Division last season.
Westbury finished seventh in the list of most runs scored in the top flight for the 2017 season, just behind club-mate Will Parton, after cracking 684 league runs at an average of 40.24.
But the former Shrewsbury School student has now opted to head back to Himley, who play a level lower.
Ed Foster, Shrewsbury’s long-serving batsman and vice-chairman, said: “Ollie’s decided to go back to Himley, his home club, and it’s not really come as a massive surprise.
“He came to Shrewsbury for the attraction of playing Premier Division cricket and to help him play at as high a level as possible.
“He achieved those aims during his two years with us he was called up to the England Under-19 team and also received his first professional contract from Worcestershire, so we would like to think that as a club we’ve played a part in his development.
"It wasn’t totally unexpected to hear of his plans to move on, but it’s obviously disappointing as Himley play a division lower.”
Foster does not expect Shrewsbury to actively seek a replacement for Westbury, stressing it would be an opportunity for a second teamer to push for a regular first-team spot.
He said: “We had a lot of guys last season batting lower down when they are capable of batting much higher.
“We are also looking for players like Llyr Thomas and Lewis Evans to push on from the second team. Our best strength has always been producing our own players, so that’s something we are keen to keep doing.”
Shrewsbury, meanwhile, could face former England star Ian Bell on the opening day of the new Birmingham League season.
Shrewsbury will begin their Premier Division fixtures with a trip to champions Knowle & Dorridge on Saturday, April 21.
K&D have just signed the experienced Bell, who has played 118 Test matches for England, as their contracted Warwickshire player for the 2018 season.
They have also announced that New Zealand international run-machine George Worker, who hammered 1,645 runs for the club last summer, will be returning to K&D for a second season.
Shrewsbury’s opening home league game will be against Moseley, one of the promoted clubs, on April 28.