SKIPPER Ruel Brathwaite insists Ludlow CC must target a tilt at the Shropshire Premier title this season despite the league being ‘stronger than ever’.

The Birmingham League’s decision to shrink from four divisions to two has led to several clubs dropping back into the county set-up this year.

One of those sides, Whitchurch, were set to host Ludlow on opening day last weekend but the game was rained off.

Brathwaite’s side host Sentinel in their first home game this Saturday and he wants an improvement on last season’s mid-table finish.

He said: “With the teams that have come down, the league will be a lot tougher.

“Before, you had three or four really strong teams, now there will be five or six. Before, teams had two or three really good players, now they have five or six.

“Every team will have aspirations of finishing as high as they can and it’s the same for us. The top two or three is always the aim.”

Rain put paid to all of the local Shropshire League action last weekend including the Division Four derby between Bishops Castle and Church Stretton, plus Corvedale’s Division Six trip to Guilsfield.

Stretton are mourning former player, secretary and treasurer Brian Underhill, who died last week aged 85.

Club captain Peter Lee led the tributes, saying: “Brian first played for Church Stretton in 1989 and was an accurate medium pace bowler, taking lots of wickets.

“After retiring, he was our league and friendly game umpire. He will be sadly missed by myself and all at Church Stretton CC.”

His funeral will take place at Shrewsbury crematorium on Thursday, May 9 at 12.30pm.