Ventnor’s Southern Electric Premier League hopes have been given a major boost after their overseas player was confirmed as left-hander Travis Head for the new campaign.
The 19-year-old South Australian wicketkeeper-batsman was assigned to the Islanders as part of the Ageas Bowl’s International Cricket Academy scheme – one of six talented Aussies to make the trip this summer.
Australia under-19 international Head had a lucky escape recently when he was struck by a car outside an Adelaide pub.
Thankfully, his quick thinking and the fact he had not been drinking meant the teenager avoided serious injury and he got away with cuts and bruises, although he still needed several stitches.
Head then showed the kind of grit that will serve Ventnor well this summer as he cracked a brilliant 185 for club side Tea Trea Gully in his comeback game last week.
Three other SEPL clubs have also joined the scheme run by Hampshire, with Totton & Eling taking William Bosisto, Lymington acquiring Scott Henry and Alex Keath joining Bournemouth, while two more players will play for Henley and Chichester Priory Park in other regional leagues.
But among those clubs conspicuous by their absence were former Southern League champions Havant, who opted out of the process after the first team voted against the idea.
Havant spokesman Geoff Owen said: ‘Richard Hindley and the first team discussed it and had a vote.
‘Basically, they are happy with their first team and they felt it would impact on the development of their own young players.
‘We do have a need for an overseas player, but it would be specifically for an opening bowler.
‘But there are four batsmen and two quality slow bowlers and we felt we needed a different kind of player.
‘The guys coming over are clearly very good players and would have to bat in the top four.
‘But that would have destroyed some of our development plans.
‘In the circumstances, it was better that we didn’t join the scheme this year.
‘Hampshire understood our reasons and our relationship is still very good.
‘It’s a brilliant opportunity and it’s a shame but it just didn’t quite fit for us this year.
‘Hopefully, we will be involved again in the future.’
While Havant are still looking for a fast bowler to boost their options, Owen admits time is running out.
He said: ‘We are still looking for an overseas player.
‘There is a realisation that everyone else will have an overseas player this year and we possibly may not.
‘We have been exploring a few opportunities but it’s getting late in the day.’