Pakiston pro Usman Arshad is raring to go after jetting into the UK to link up with Seaton Carew for the new season.
The 32-year-old opening batsman and right-arm leg spinner played 12 games for last season’s relegation rivals Redcar before returning home for the domestic season, has signed a deal with the Hornby Park outfit for the duration of the 2016 campaign.
Arshad steps into the void left following the departure of last season’s professional, Sri Lankan Sanjaya Rodrigo, and is hoping for a dry couple of days ahead of tomorrow’s curtain-raiser with Great Ayton.
Arshad said: “I’m delighted to be joining Seaton Carew, in my short time here last season I thought this was an excellent place to play cricket and there are a lot of talented young players here.
“I like the batting conditions here, I have played in the UK before in Newquay and Bolton, and obviously I know this league from my spell with Redcar.”
Arshad joins a team which pulled off its own version of the Great Escape last season, with a relegation avoided thanks to a dramatic success over title-chasing Great Ayton on the final day.
And he is hoping the team, which will once again be skippered by Martin Skirving, will start the new campaign in the way they finished the last one.
He added: “It did surprise me that Seaton struggled last season, because I think they have a hard working team. They fought for everything last season, and they somehow managed to stay up.
“They showed they can perform under pressure, but I’m hoping this season we can get off to a good start and leave ourselves under that kind of pressure again.
“It took a while to get into the groove last season, and it did look as though the season was going to finish with relegation. That is history now though, they did enough to stay up and this season it would be nice to get off to a good start and get some momentum in the early matches.”
While the league season turned out to be a nailbiting affair, Seaton enjoyed cup success in the Macmillan T20 and Arshad is hoping he will have another medal in his pocket by the time he jets back to his homeland in September.
“It would be nice to win that again, and also to d well in the other cup competitions.
As far as the league goes, there are some good sides in there. Richmond are good, and I remember Stokesley were decent. But if we can get that good start, then I think a top four finish is a realistic target.”
Arshad, who will also coach the club’s youngsters as part of his deal, notched just under 500 runs with Redcar and comes with an eye-catching CV thanks to more than 100 first class games in Pakistan which have yielded more than 5,000 runs including 12 centuries and a highest score of 202.
Other new arrivals include 20-year-old right-handed pace bowler Reece Carr, who joins from Sacriston, and Sam Taylor-Gell arrives after a spell with South Shields.
Meanwhile Pau Braithwaite returns to his home club after a successful spell with Nathalia in Victoria, Australia, which saw him return from Down Under with a league winner’s medal and topping the batting averages.
Dave Storey has re-joined after his loan spell at neighbours Blackhall last year, while wicketkeeper David Braithwaite is back in the fold after a pre-season representing Edinburgh Universities 1st XI.