Former Worcestershire paceman Paul Pridgeon is helping Shropshire’s cricketers prepare for the new season.
Pridgeon, who enjoyed a long first-class career with Worcestershire between 1972 and 1989, is leading the squad’s training sessions each fortnight at Shrewsbury School’s impressive Neville Cardus Indoor Cricket Centre.
Shropshire captain Steve Leach said the players are enjoying working with the experienced Pridgeon, who spent two seasons playing Minor Counties cricket for Shropshire in 1991 and 1992 after leaving Worcestershire.
He is a familiar figure to several Shropshire players from his many years as Shrewsbury School’s cricket professional and also his current role running Worcestershire’s satellite academy for promising Shropshire cricketers.
Leach, who is looking forward to his third season as Shropshire skipper, said: “It’s been really good of Pridge to step up and run the sessions for us. They’ve been high quality and certainly the guys can learn a lot from him with all of his experience.
“He’s obviously someone that’s been around the first-class game for many years and he’s still involved with the Worcestershire CCC scene.
“He’s had strong ties with Shropshire for many years now, so I would like to think that Pridge has a warm sense of satisfaction being back involved with our side as well.”
Leach stressed the sessions have been well attended and also thanked Jim Mostyn, for so many years associated with Wrekin College, for running a fitness session at the last county get together.
“The guys found that really useful,” he said. “There was a lot of fitness work and hopefully we can take some of the lessons we learned into a more structured sense when it comes to matchdays.
“It’s up to the guys to take a little bit more responsibility and if we can use these sessions to help prep us for the season then that’s what they’re all about really.”
Leach added: “We’ve had decent turn outs each time. Some of the players have come from all over the country, we’ve got lads at university and people have different jobs, so there’s lots of different factors involved.
“We’ve certainly seen some very promising young players joining us and I think we’re going to have a good, strong team this year, and hopefully we’ll be able to peak and get ready for the first games in April.
“We’ve also got a warm up match lined up against Worcestershire’s second team, which is likely to be at Wrekin College, so it’s all systems go.”
Leach, a consistent opening batsman, added that he’s encouraged by the continued development of several of the county’s promising cricketers and insisted places are always available for in-form players to break into the Shropshire side.
“There’s a couple of very promising young players,” he said. “Six months in terms of their development is a long time and you can see that several of those guys have been training very hard over the winter and they are really good prospects.
“If they start the season well they have as good a chance as anyone of getting in our first team.
“There’s places up for grabs at the start of every season and those first three or four Birmingham League games are going to be all important. Realistically, there’s always going to be two or three places up for grabs depending on form, and some of the young players are really catching the eye at the moment.”
Shropshire’s next two sessions will focus on white ball practice ahead of the launch of a new Unicorns T20 competition this season. Shrewsbury batsman Will Parton will captain Shropshire’s T20 side in a group which will see them face Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Parton said: “There will be some white ball Twenty20 practice, death batting, death bowling. That’s Pridge’s aim for the next couple of sessions, which I think is important because a lot of the lads might not be as experienced as some playing with a white ball so I think a bit of practice is important really.
“Most of our one-day cricket for clubs is with a pink and orange ball and it does make a bit of a difference. The ball behaves differently and it’s just different circumstances of cricket, so it’s good to practice.”
Parton added he was looking forward to skippering Shropshire’s new T20 side.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it and it will be good fun,” he said. “We’ve got a good bunch of lads and Twenty20 gives different players an opportunity to try and get in the side really. It’s new for everybody so every county is going to be in the same boat.”
Shropshire’s first competitive match of the 2018 season is a Unicorns Trophy first round tie against Herefordshire at Whitchurch’s Heath Road ground on Sunday, April 29.
Pictured: Shropshire’s players being put through their paces at a pre-season training session at Shrewsbury School.