Waringstown have taken little more than a week to secure the signature of Andre Malan as overseas professional after the shock withdrawal of Shadley van Schalkwyk.
The villagers had been left reeling when van Schalkwyk withdrew from his contract but the signing of Malan, who spent the last two summers with Civil Service North, represents a huge coupe.
Captain Lee Nelson praised the club’s quick response to van Schalkwyk’s withdrawal after the all-rounder decided to quit first class cricket.
Waringstown have arguably signed a professional of even greater potential with Malan having dominated the NCU’s run and wickets charts in 2018 and 2019.
“It was a shock to all of us, Shadley had been scoring lots of runs and taking wickets in South Africa, and was back in the franchise set-up,” said Nelson. “But in terms of how we reacted we could not have done any better in terms of who we have signed.
“In my view we have signed the best cricketer in the country over the last two years. Andre scored 2,000 runs and taken about 80 wickets during those two years. To have someone of that calibre coming in will give us an extra dimension with both bat and ball.
“If you had set out what we needed, someone to bat three or four and open the bowling, that’s what we have got with Andre. To get the best person available is a brilliant effort from the club.”
Malan plundered 1,238 runs last summer at an average of 65.16, having scored 940 runs at 47 in 2018. He also took 41 wickets in 2019 and 43 in 2018.
Nelson also revealed that James Hall will be part of Waringstown’s first-team panel this summer. There had been speculation that the club’s all-time leading run-scorer would step away from the game.
“We are going into this year with probably the strongest squad we have had in a few years,” Nelson added. “James is committed to playing again which is another great boost. If you look at any player, everyone goes through a tough season at some point. He is Waringstown’s leading ever run-scorer and it’s a massive boost that he is available.”
Waringstown will also have Aaron Wright and Morgan Topping back at the club after both returned from CSNI.