Spalding Town Cricket Club have moved swiftly to replace departing overseas star Campbell Light – and admitted they now view the season as more than a fight against relegation.
Captain Rob Ambrose revealed yesterday that the newly-promoted club has signed South African U19 international Nabeel Bhayla.
The 21-year-old opening batsmen will arrive in Spalding next Wednesday and will strengthen a team already holding its own in the Lincs ECB Premier League.
“He comes highly recommended. He is a class cricketer and we are hoping he can hit some big scores,” Ambrose told the Guardian.
“Obviously we are not replacing like for like as Cam was an opening bowler. But we’ve got fast bowler Henry Church back in a couple of weeks from his private school, so that changes things.”
Bhayla, a useful off spinner, has played for his country from U15 to U19 level and is a professional in South Africa, currently attached to the KwaZulu-Natal club.
The right-hander made his first class debut in October 2011 and has since played 15 first class matches, with a top score of 65.
Ambrose explained how the deal works with overseas players, the club paying for their flights, sorting their accommodation and securing them a part-time job.
“After Cam left we wondered if we needed a replacement. We had won a few games and things were going well,” he added.
“But everything was set up for an overseas player so we thought we might as well.
“Two or three weeks ago we were looking at keeping out of the two relegation places but now we are looking upwards and looking to push on for the rest of the season.
“I’m not saying we are going to be challenging for the title but we want to get as high up as we can.”
An excited Bhayla told the Guardian: “Its going to be my first time in England playing cricket so I can’t wait to get on the park.
“Hopefully I can contribute consistently at the top of the order and in the field, helping Spalding to as many wins as possible.”
Town will stick with their current opening pair of Amrose and Mike Cairns for Saturday’s game against third-placed Grimsby at Spalding Grammar School.
Ambrose will then make a decision on who drops down the order to makle way for Bhayla for the following week’s home clash with second-placed Woodhall Spa.
“Grimsby had four players represent the Minor Counties this week so they will be on a high,” warned Ambrose.
“They are strong but we are not fazed by them. It is our ninth game now and we have lost any nerves we had and settled down very well.
“They will be coming to Spalding expecting to beat us and they will be tricky opposition, but we have always got a chance.”