Jack Shantry admits he is relishing the chance to return to his home town when Worcestershire take on Shropshire in a special Twenty20 challenge match at Shrewsbury's London Road ground on Wednesday, June 13 (5.30pm).
Shantry, the left-arm medium pacer, has become a key man in Worcestershire's bowling attack since making the step up from playing for Shrewsbury and Shropshire.
Now he's excited about representing the Pears at a ground he knows so well in a match which will act as a dress rehearsal for Worcestershire ahead of the start of their Friends Life t20 campaign against Warwickshire at Edgbaston 48 hours later.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” said Shantry. “Shrewsbury and Worcestershire are the two clubs I hold closest to my heart so to represent Worcestershire at London Road will be a surreal moment and something I never thought I would experience in my career.
“There will be lots of familiar faces and it's sure to evoke many fond memories from my formative years. I was part of the Shrewsbury team which won the National Club Championship at under-13 and 15 level alongside Rob Foster and Joe Hart so that stands out, and so does winning lots of silverware with the senior team under Ed Foster.”
Shantry added he was grateful for the role Shropshire played in helping him achieve his ambition of becoming a professional cricketer.
He said: “I had three very enjoyable seasons with Shropshire and I know they will be worthy opposition in this game. Minor Counties cricket plays a huge role in developing young cricketers and acting as a segue between club and first class cricket.
“I owe a lot to Shropshire for giving me an opportunity when I was 18. Losing Bilal Shafayat to Hampshire will be a blow to them but there has always been a strong talent pool in the county and I am sure there are other hungry young cricketers ready to fill his boots.”
Shantry continues to keep close tabs on the Shropshire scene but his main focus is on events at New Road and he's confident Worcestershire have the ability to make an impact in t20 cricket this summer.
“The side looks very strong and we have an excellent chance of making it to the latter stages of the competition,” he said.
“Our overseas players Phil Hughes and Sohail Tanvir are proven matchwinners and we also have destructive batsmen with the likes of Vikram Solanki, Moeen Ali and Gareth Andrew.
“On a personal level, I am looking forward to forming an effective new ball partnership with Tanvir and with our unusual bowling actions we should pose a different kind of threat to what most opening batsmen are used to.”
Shropshire chairman Toby Shaw said hosting Worcestershire promised to be a special occasion and stressed how much everyone connected with the county was looking forward to welcoming the Pears. He is also hoping for a bumper crowd with admission on the night just £5.
“It's a high profile game which we are delighted to have arranged and it underlines the close links we have with Worcestershire,” he added.
“We're pleased to be staging it in the county town and with admission prices so reasonable we hope a good crowd will come along and enjoy the game.
“We are also grateful to local company William A. Lewis for supporting the fixture as match sponsors.”