Shropshire CCC profile: James Ralph

Full name: James T Ralph.
Birthplace/date: Kidderminster; October 9, 1975.
Clubs you have played for? Kidderminster, Worcestershire, Ludlow, St Georges, Shifnal, Bridgnorth and Shropshire. I also played in Western Australia for North County CC in Albany.
Biggest influences on your career? My father, who I went to cricket with every weekend, and my younger brother, who also played for Kidderminster’s first team, who I would play back yard cricket with every night after school.
Best player I have played alongside? I only played with him in benefit games for Worcestershire but Graeme Hick was world class. It was a shame he spent seven years qualifying to be eligible only to then play in an England side that had no selection structure at the time.
Best player I have played against? Andy Flower was an unbelievable player in the Birmingham League for West Bromwich Dartmouth and always seemed to be on 50 after 30 balls without playing an attacking shot. At that time the Zimbaweans were great, players like Grant Flower at Barnt Green and Dave Houghton at West Bromwich Dartmouth too.
Favourite grounds? Kidderminster will always be my favourite place to bat but all round. Bridgnorth is also a great place to play and is also a great play to watch a game with the ground sat snugly in the centre of town, just five minutes walk to the pubs!
What have been your cricketing highlights? I’ve played finals at some great venues, twice at Lord’s, and three times the WACA in Perth, but scoring 102 not out for Shropshire in the NatWest Trophy against Somerset at St Georges in front of a large home crowd definitely has to be the highlight of my cricketing career.
What do you enjoy most about playing for Shropshire? We always have plenty of fun off the field for three days but once we go over the line we all feel immense pride in representing Shropshire. The feeling you get when you perform well as a team to win a Championship game is most satisfying as in any sport. When you win in a team environment, it feels great.
Hopes for the season? To help Bridgnorth stay in division one of the Birmingham League after doing really well the last two years to earn back-to-back promotions, and to be part of the Shropshire side that will hopefully finally lift the Western Division title.
Long-term cricketing ambitions? I hope to keep playing club cricket for as long as I can so that I might get to play adult cricket with my two sons, Maxton and Henry.
Favourite other sports? I’m too old to play football now and umpires dish out too many cards in hockey, so now when I have a free afternoon I am on the golf course at Bridgnorth or on Wednesday nights in the winter I’m with my darts comrades throwing some arrows (badly!).
                                                                                                                                                                      Stuart Dunn
Picture – James Ralph in action