Shropshire have strengthened their squad ahead of the new season by signing former Kent seamer Charlie Hartley and prolific Birmingham League batsman Alex Phillips.
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, believes the duo will prove to be exciting additions for the county.
He said: “We’re always looking to strengthen the squad and that will be the case with both Alex and Charlie
“Alex is a wicketkeeper-batsman and a prolific run scorer in the Birmingham League for Knowle & Dorridge.
“He’s trained with us over the winter to get to know the players and has looked particularly good in the nets. His pedigree is proven and he will strengthen the team.
“Charlie also has a very good pedigree from playing at Kent. He’s fit, strong and has taken wickets. We are hoping that he can get in the spotlight by taking a lot of wickets for us.”
Jones added: “We want to win competitions and feel we are set up nicely with the addition of these two players to have a successful season again and go one step better than last year.
“We are trying to make the squad as competitive as possible to get people playing better.”
Phillips, 27, played for Herefordshire against Shropshire last season. He scored more runs, 824, than any player in the Birmingham League premier division last year.
Hartley, 25, played three first-class and eight List A matches for Kent earlier in his career, taking six wickets against the West Indies in a match at Canterbury during the 2017 season.
He claimed 50 wickets for Halesowen in the first division of the Birmingham League last year while he was also on trial with Derbyshire.
Hartley said: “I’m just excited for a different challenge. I’ve obviously gone through the professional side of things, through the trialling, and I felt I was a little bit unlucky last year with my situation with Derbyshire.”
He spoke to both Shropshire skipper Steve Leach and Alexei Kervezee, his Halesowen captain who enjoyed a successful first season with Shropshire last year, ahead of joining the county.
“They both said that Shropshire’s a great place to play,” added Hartley, who is now looking forward to lining up alongside Kervezee both at club and county level. “He’s a great lad and ultimately I trust his opinion. I know he will give me honest feedback. When he was positive about the club, it was a very easy decision for me.”
Phillips, who was with Warwickshire as a youngster, is also excited about signing for Shropshire.
“I’m trying to make my way in the Minor Counties game, so I’m really excited about a proper chance to play a full season really,” he said. “I’ve played games for Herefordshire, but this will be really the first time playing all formats and having a crack at the whole season.
“I know quite a lot of the Shropshire team, the likes of Steve Leach and Will Parton, having played against them. I think we’ve got a really good team shaping up for the summer.”
Phillips has enjoyed opening the batting with New Zealand international George Worker at club level for the last two seasons.
“I’m proud of my run scoring in the Birmingham League,” he added. “George had an incredible first year and he did pretty well last year as well. I learnt a lot from him.”
Shropshire face Worcestershire in their opening pre-season friendly at Wrekin College on Sunday.
Pictured: Alex Phillips scored 824 runs in the Birmingham League during the 2018 season. Photo courtesy of Paul Moreau.