Late professional switch for Elworth as international all-rounder agrees move



Elworth have been forced into a late change of professional… but skipper Russ Ballard is optimistic that their new recruit can be the final piece of the promotion jigsaw.

The Cheshire side had agreed a deal with South African paceman Nealan Van Heerden, but the move fell through on the eve of the North Staffs and South Cheshire League Division One season.

That left them scouring the market for an alternative, and they have moved to sign Zimbabwe all-rounder William Mashinge for the summer.

Mashinge, a right-handed batsman and quick bowler, spent two years in the Birmingham League with Leamington in 2018 and 2019 having previously featured for Cornwall side Boconnoc and Liverpool-based Maghull.

Ballard said: “The deal with Nealan fell through on March 31, so it was a bit of a rush to find someone else.

“Nealan was more of a bowler who could bat, whereas William is a genuine all-rounder.

“He’s been at Leamington before and his stats look pretty good, so we’re looking at him batting at four or five and opening the bowling for us.

“We had Yasir Ali as our overseas pro for a long time and since he left we haven’t really had anyone.

“Hopefully William can come in and be the missing link for us and help us to win promotion.”

Mashinge, aged 24, has played two Twenty20 internationals for Zimbabwe, having previously represented the country’s under-17s, under-19s and A team.

He has a handy record at first-class level in his homeland, having scored 732 runs and taken 64 wickets in 23 appearances.

He’s also featured in 11 List A and 11 T20 matches.

Mashinge’s spell in the Birmingham League saw him score more than 1,400 and pick up 48 wickets for Leamington.

He will miss Elworth’s first four matches, but joins a side who are among the favourites for a top-two place. They haven’t been in the Premier Division since 2018, although they finished in second place in Division One last summer.

But with the campaign shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, no promotion or relegation was in operation.

“The pressure was off a little bit last year and we could play with a bit of freedom,” added Ballard.

“It was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t move up,. but we know that we’re always looking to be around the top four or five.

“Hopefully this season we can finish tin the top two and return to the Premier Division.”

Elworth made a fine start to this summer’s schedule last weekend when they defeated Audley. They will attempt to make it back-to-back successes tomorrow when they make the journey to Blythe.

“We tried to get a sub pro in last week, but were unsuccessful,” explained Ballard.

“So it was a good win for us, and Ben Holt, who is only 17, batted really well for his 62 not out.

“Audley are a good side when you consider they have Rob Hemmings, Jack Redman and Recordo Gordon, and I expect them to be up there at the end of the season.

“Blythe had a high-scoring game last weekend, but we will go there looking for maximum points.”

Ballard says it is imperative to put early points on the board in their quest to challenge for promotion.

The NSSCL has adopted a new structure this year, with the first half of the season being played on a win/lose basis, before the final 11 matches are contested in the win/lose/draw format.

“It’s massive to get three or four wins early on, especially playing win/lose cricket,” said Ballard.

“Momentum is key and May is going to be a big month for us. We’ll be six games in by the end of it.

“I’m a bit of a traditionalist and I like the win/lose/draw format over 55 overs with 17 per bowler.

“As a club we couldn’t decide which format we preferred, but personally the draw option is for me. Playing win/lose doesn’t change too much from a captaincy perspective. You just have your Sunday cup head on and have a slightly different thought process.”





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