Havant sign two former Hampshire Academy players for 2021 Southern Premier League season
Havant have signed two players who were released by the Hampshire Academy at the end of last season.
Wicket-keeper/batsman George Metzger has been brought in with a view to replacing stalwart Jeremy Bulled behind the stumps.
Pace bowler Sonny Reynolds - who has hardly played in the last two years due to a back injury and the pandemic - has also joined the Havant Park outfit.
Their former Academy colleague, Harry Broderick, is another new face who will only be available for Havant on Sundays due to his county commitments.
The all-rounder will be in contention for the National Cup, the Southern Premier League T20 and the ECB national T20 tournaments.
Hailing from Hartley Wintney, Broderick is highly rated and compiled his maiden SPL half-century for the Academy in the final game of the 2019 season against Havant.
Ali Gardner, a seam bowler from Bedhampton, completes the close season signings, with The News having revealed a few days ago that all-rounder Ben Walker had agreed to return to the club where he won six SPL titles between 2007-2017.
Metzger, 19, has chosen to play for Havant despite living in the Basingstoke area.
A connection is believed to be his friendship with Havant batsman Harry Gadd, a former county youth colleague.
Metzger played six 2nd XI matches for Hampshire, including the 2019 2nd XI final victory over Leicestershire at The Ageas Bowl.
He is expected to challenge for a place in the top order alongside Walker, Pete Hopson, Gadd and Stuart Ransley.
Metzger is certainly no slouch with the bat, regularly opening in youth cricket. In 2018, opening for Hampshire under-17s against Worcestershire under-17s at Stourport, he struck 194 in the second innings.
He also top scored with 45 last September for the Academy in their SPL T20 Cup final defeat to Havant.
Bulled, the club’s director of cricket, revealed: ‘George has been signed as my eventual replacement.
‘I’ll be turning 44 during the coming season, so it’ll be my last one.
‘We’ll probably share the gloves this year, but George will keep on Sundays.’
Reynolds - son of Waterlooville CC chairman Andy - made his competitive debut in adult cricket aged just 13 in 2015, for Waterlooville 2nds.
He played in 21 SPL matches for the Academy in 2017-2018, as well as one Hampshire 2nd XI Trophy tie against Sussex in April 2019.
‘I think Sonny still wants to get a professional contract somewhere,’ said Bulled, ‘which is why he’s joined Havant rather than going back to Waterlooville.
‘We always need seam bowlers - we have always struggled to produce them ourselves because our wickets are good for spinners and not so good for the seamers.’
Gardner has been a consistent wicket-taker for Bedhampton Mariners for several years. Since his debut 14 years ago, he has taken 227 league wickets with a best of 8-33 in a Hampshire League game against Leckford in 2007.
He is expected to start the 2021 season in the Havant 2nds XI which is captained by his former Bedhampton colleague Alex Whitfield.
While Havant have recruited a number of new faces, they were also confident at one stage of adding Hampshire all-rounder Brad Taylor to their ranks.
Taylor previously played for Havant in 2017, helping them to their last SPL title. In one remarkable game against Andover, he struck 131 when opening the batting before taking 7-36 later in the day.
Coming into the final year of his current Ageas Bowl contract, Taylor has now decided not to return to Havant Park.
Ahead of the 2021 recreational cricket season, Havant have re-introduced a 4th XI. A mixture of experience and youth, they will play friendly matches only this year with a view to joining the Hampshire League in 2022.
The club have also, for the first time in their history, created an under-19 team. This will feature several of the under-17 side that last year won their county T20 tournament such as Freddie Gadd and Alfie Taw.
‘The 4ths, the under-17s and the under-19s will all be linked,’ explained Bulled.
‘Often when players finish at colts level they have nowhere to go and you can lose a lot of players.
‘This is about creating a pathway and giving them as many opportunities as possible.
‘The 4th will have two or three older heads, plus lots of youngsters.
‘We haven’t appointed a main 4th XI captain. The team will play about 12 games this year and four or five different players will captain.
Havant begin their pre-season friendlies on Saturday, April 10 at home to Portsmouth University. Further games follow against Chichester Priory (April 17), Sussex Premier side Middleton (18), Surrey outfit Beddington (24) and Hampshire Under-17s (25).
Havant’s opening Southern Premier League game is against newly-promoted Hook & Newnham Basics on May 1.