Legend Brian Foulkes passed on his love of the game

Former skipper Will Clarke has paid a heartfelt tribute to Shifnal Cricket Club legend Brian Foulkes.

Specialist throwing coach of the English Cricket Board puts Brian Foulkes through his paces at an open session for cricketers at Lilleshall Sports Centre
Specialist throwing coach of the English Cricket Board puts Brian Foulkes through his paces at an open session for cricketers at Lilleshall Sports Centre

The club are in mourning following the death of Foulkes, aged 86.

Clarke was one of many players who benefitted from Foulkes’ coaching and picked up his love of the game.

Foulkes, a feared fast bowler in his playing days, was a life member at the Priorslee Road club where he spent over 70 years in various roles.

A fine cricketer, he then excelled in the field of coaching. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Cricket Coaches Association which now has thousands of members from grassroots to international level around the world.

His coaching skills and dedication to cricket were recognised nationally in 2008 when he received the ECB Coaches Association’s Outstanding Services to Cricket award at Lord’s.

“I have known Brian all my life, ever since I was old enough to hold a cricket bat,” said 49-year-old Clarke, who was also director of cricket at Shifnal.

“He coached me as a junior and he was a big part of my life, and like a second father to me cricket wise.

“He started the youth section from scratch at Shifnal and some really good players benefitted from Brian’s coaching

“He was very much a pioneer and ahead of his time in regards to coaching and coach education.

“As youngsters we were very fortunate to have Lilleshall National Sports centre on our doorstep and we always seemed to be up there at training sessions Brian had arranged or as guinea pigs for coaches to pass their courses.

“He passed on his love of the game to all of us. He had a great love for fast bowlers, he was a fast bowler himself. Anyone who could bowl quick, he took great interest in.

“He was very much old school and a disciplinarian. He would always have a word to say to you when he was walking around the boundary, ‘why did you play that shot?’ or ‘you need to get your head over the ball a bit more’. He cared a lot.

“He never missed a Saturday and he had an interest in photography and became the club’s photographer.

“At the presentation nights, he would be there with his camera.

“The club will do something to honour him. It’s a shame that in these times we can’t give him the send off he deserves.

“He was a lovely man and he will be sorely missed.”

Foulkes was also heavily involved with the Shropshire Cricket Board and Cricket Shropshire’s county age group programme, as both coach and team manager.

Cricket Shropshire chairman Adrian Collins said: “It is almost impossible to overstate the influence Brian had on the game both in Shropshire and beyond.

“His contribution to cricket in the county is immense, and he had a huge influence on a generation of county age group coaches and players.”

Tributes have been flooding in from across the county and beyond for Foulkes, who also played for Newport and turned to spin bowling following a neck injury.

Cricket Shropshire’s performance cricket manager Ed Ashlin said: “This is really sad news. Brian had a huge impact on so many people in so many ways, including me as my age group coach.

“Above all what stood out was the time he gave and genuine interest he showed when you bumped into him around the boundary. What a fantastic role model for coaches and players.”

Among those paying tribute on Twitter was current Worcestershire head of coach and player development and former Shropshire county cricket club coach Kevin Sharp.

He said: “So sad to hear this news. Brian became my mentor on arriving in Shropshire in the early 90s.

“He was such an inspiration and guided me through the transition from playing into coaching. RIP my friend, you will never be forgotten.”

Chris Dirkin, chairman of the Shropshire Association of Cricket Coaches, added: “Brian was instrumental in coaching and coach education in Shropshire and his home club Shifnal, training coaches across the county and beyond, with many going on to coach at First-Class and international level.

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