Shrewsbury take Hart
England goalkeeper Joe Hart will keeping a close eye on Saturday’s National Club Championship Final where his old club Shrewsbury take on Cambridge Granta.
Hart, a former Worcestershire academy player, still has close links with Shrewsbury, the club he played for until the age of 19 when his football took over.
“He’s got a very close link with the club,” Shrewsbury captain Ed Foster told ecb.co.uk.
“He’s a friend of a lot of the guys who are in the side and he still comes down and watches quite a lot. If he didn’t have a game on the day of the final he would definitely be down there.”
Shrewsbury are expecting around 200 supporters to make the trip for the final after the team saw off three former Test cricketers to book a place at Derbyshire’s County Ground.
The Birmingham & District Premier League side convincingly won their semi-final with an eight-wicket victory over West Indian Cavaliers, who counted in their ranks Saqlain Mushtaq, Alex Tudor and Usman Afzaal.
“They were quite a strong side, particularly with those three guys,” said Foster.
“You’d probably say that we were underdogs going into the game, but we managed to win quite comfortably in the end. Hopefully we can do something similar in the final.”
And for the final against Cambridge Granta – who won their semi-final against Ealing by two wickets with an over to spare – Foster said his team’s game-plan will not change.
“I don’t know a great deal about the Cambridge players to be honest,” he admitted.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of people I know who have played against them just to get an idea of their strengths and what they look to do so that it’s not quite so surprising on the day, but we won’t look to do anything particularly different from what got us here.
“We’ll try and adapt if something’s happening in the course of the game but in our approach we’ll look to do the same things as normal.”
Foster, at 26, is the oldest player in the Shrewsbury line-up and he’s hoping the team’s youth will be an advantage in the final.
“We’re pretty positive in the way we play,” he added. “We are quite attacking with the bat and we bat a long way down. Our bowlers take wickets and with four seamers and three spinners we’ve got a lot of options and a lot of bases covered.
“Being such a young side you’d hope that we’d field well and that’s what we do on the majority of occasions. We’re a very young, positive side.”
Shrewsbury, who topped their league last year, won the National Club Championship in 1983 and this is the furthest they have got since then, but the captain also stressed it was an occasion to be enjoyed.
“I don’t think we’ll be too overawed by the occasion,” he insisted.
“It’s obviously an exciting opportunity - a national knockout final is not something that comes around every day. It’s a one-off, you’ve just got to get out there and give it your all.
“We’re really looking forward to the day.”