Longton Cricket captain Eddie Jones is hoping the signing of bowler Adnan Ghaus can give his side the boost needed to claim a top-four spot this season.
Jones’ side finished sixth in the North Staffs and South Cheshire Premier League last term and the skipper thinks his side can utilise Ghaus’ first-class experience to fight at the top of the table.
The seamer turned out for Elworth last season having previously turned out for first-class sides including Rawalpindi in his native Pakistan.
And Jones is looking forward to seeing his new threat take to the crease.
“He’s a big, fast bowler who hits the pitch,” he said, “he took 40 odd wickets at 12 a piece last year, which is a great achievement. He brings first-class experience as well.
“He’s been playing in Pakistan over the winter, which is their summer so he’ll be coming in raring to go hopefully.
“He’s says he’s looking forward to it and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes at Longton.
“We were managing to get teams six or seven down, but not being able to finish them off. So I think he brings something definitely if you look at where he takes his wickets.
“He takes them at the top of the order and the tail so hopefully that will get us over the line in three or four games this year.”
While not a new addition, Jones believes that the return of former Worcestershire batter David Wheeldon, who missed the whole of last season with injury, will bring vital experience to his young Longton team.
“He’s a former first-class player, scores upwards of 700 runs every season,” Jones added, “so he was a massive loss last year, most-experienced player in the team as well. He’ll definitely be like a new signing this year without a doubt.
“The exposure that some of the young lads had last year, like Brody Mackie who was batting up the order, at 18, he’ll be staying up the order because he was playing really well.
“Another young lad in Alex Coates who joined us from Ludlane last year, he’s going into his second season, trained with Staffordshire over the winter.
“He’s getting fitter and stronger and bowling better. He’ll definitely be one to watch. We’re bringing some young lads through.”
And with that exposure gained last season, Longton are now targeting a top-four finish after a year of building, although he knows that Stone will pose a tough challenge in their first outing of the campaign.
“We’re trying to build on last year, we had a mixed season,” he said, “some weeks we turned up on our game, some weeks we didn’t but that’s the downfall of having a young side.
“So this year hopefully we can improve on our league position and challenge at the top of the table. I think we can target a top-four finish.
“We’ve got a very solid top four batters, the middle order is young and I’m going to slot in and see if I can score some runs as well. The bowling attack is also strong with four seamers and two spinners.
“Stone always seem to be a strong team even if they look like they’ve lost a couple of players. They always seem to manage to pull together as a unit and perform well.
“So it will a tough game first up. It’s usually a good one to be involved in. They’re usually tight battles so hopefully we can come out on top this time round.”