Oswestry Cricket Club are preparing for life in the Birmingham League next season without skipper Robbie Clarke.

The 24-year-old Shropshire batsman is set to join South Wales side Premier League side Port Talbot in a shock move.

Clarke, who led Oswestry to promotion in 2017, and guided the club to a highly creditable 4th place in Division One last season, notified officials last week of his decision. His name had been linked to a number of Birmingham League clubs over recent weeks.

The former Morda Road skipper now lives and works in Birmingham, after finishing his studies in Cardiff over the summer and he played briefly for Swansea while at university.

Chairman Chris Wiseman said: “We are naturally disappointed to lose Robbie, but wish him well for the future, and thank him for all his efforts, particularly over the last two seasons. He knows the door is always open for him to return.

“We now need to re-plan as quickly as possible for the season ahead.

“The Committee have moved quickly, nominating Dean Suter to take over first team responsibilities for the 2019 season. His appointment will be ratified at the Annual General Meeting on January 6."

Wicket keeper-batsman Suter, who returned to Morda Road two seasons ago after a short spell at Shelton, impressed club officials on the occasions he deputised for Clarke last season.

The popular glove-man had an excellent season behind the stumps and scored valuable runs on occasions.

With Clarke now departed and brother Joe, the England Lions batsman, unlikely to be available following his move to Nottinghamshire, Oswestry will be hoping to further strengthen their batting line-up with Warrick Fynn, Joe Carrasco and Roman Walker looking to repeat their high scoring exploits of last season.

Mr Wiseman added: ''We are always looking to improve, and strengthen wherever possible, but at the same time we must work within strict financial parameters. Unlike some clubs, we do not have a bottomless pit.

''We have a number of youngsters coming through who will be given their opportunity. We need to develop our own players, and grow organically, but at the same time remain competitive. It is a very fine balance.''

The Oswestry chairman did not rule out the possibility of looking overseas, adding 'we would consider this option, but only if funding was guaranteed'.