The waiting is nearly over with Shropshire skipper James Ralph looking forward to being reunited with several familiar faces when the county host Worcestershire Rapids in an attractive Twenty20 challenge match tomorrow night (Wednesday).
Five Shropshire old boys are now part of the Worcestershire squad in the first division of the County Championship and four of them are set to turn back the clock by playing for the county against their current New Road team mates at Bridgnorth Cricket Club (5.30pm start).
The one likely exception is former Shropshire captain Richard Oliver, with the big hitting opening batsman expected to be in the Worcestershire side.
But Jack Shantry and Joe Leach together with England under-19 internationals Ed Barnard and Joe Clarke – who have both represented Shropshire already this season in the Unicorns Trophy – are pencilled in to add some professional experience for the hosts.
“We’ve got close ties with Worcestershire, so it will be great to see a few comrades again,” said Ralph, the experienced batsman who also had a spell with the Pears in his younger days.
“It will be good to have a few of their lads back in our side to add that extra bit of experience and we want the game to be as competitive as possible.
“It’s very kind of Worcestershire to lend us a few of their players and we’re really looking forward to it.
“It’s a warm up game for Worcestershire ahead of their Twenty20 campaign and it’s also a useful exercise for ourselves as we look forward to playing in the Unicorns Twenty20 competiton for the first time against Oxfordshire at Eastnor on May 31.”
Ralph enjoyed being part of the Shropshire side at his home club ground last year when a crowd of more than 800 people watched the county take on Birmingham Bears, the one-day name for Warwickshire.
Admission to tomorrow evening’s clash will again be just £5 to be paid at the ground on the night of the game with no advance tickets available.
“It was a great occasion last year,” added the captain. “Hopefully there will be lots of people there again and we can put on a bit of a show for the crowd.
“There should be plenty of sixes, wickets tumbling and some great catches, so it should be a good spectacle for the crowd.
“Bridgnorth are good at hosting nights like this. The bar will be open, food will be available and all we need is for the weather to be kind.”
Shropshire chairman Toby Shaw stressed it’s always a highlight in the county’s season to face first class opposition from the professional game.
“I’ve spoken to Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire’s Director of Cricket, and he was very positive about bringing a good side to play us,” he said.
“These are always very popular occasions and Bridgnorth as a club are magnificent hosts, both in preparing the ground but also for their off the field support.”
Pictured: Shropshire captain James Ralph – looking forward to leading the county against Worcestershire Rapids at Bridgnorth, his home club ground, tomorrow night. Picture courtesy of Tony Marsh Cricpix.