Siviwe Gidana experience will be crucial as Havant set sights on moving back up the table
Havant have turned to experienced overseas player Siviwe Gidana in a bid to revive their Southern League premier division fortunes this summer.
The 31-year-old, South African, right-arm seam bowler makes his debut in the opening game against Lymington at Havant Park on Saturday (12.30pm).
It is the Port Elizabeth born cricketer's fourth summer in England having previously played league cricket in Northants and Yorkshire.
Back home he made 119 first-class appearances taking 130 wickets.
During the winter he helped Eastern Province lift the CSA three-day Provincial Cup against Northerns.
He will form part of a three-pronged seam attack alongside Richard Jerry and Portsmouth University student Krissie Mistry.
First-team manager Craig Stainton, who moved from Bedhampton during the winter, believes the experience of Gidana will boost the squad.
Havant had a disappointing time last summer finishing sixth.
It was the first time in six years they finished outside the top three.
Their proud record includes title successes in 2016 and 2017.
Stainton said: ‘Last season saw a changing of the guard at Havant with some high profile players leaving.
‘Our youth section has produced a number of quality youngsters who are starting to come through.
‘That is why the club have brought in an overseas player with experience.
‘Siviwe arrives with a pedigree and will help bed some of the youngsters into the squad.
‘His coaching role will also be very important.
‘Our aim is to keep growing the squad and we will continue to blood some of our good youngsters.
‘There has been a lot of hard work put in at the club during the close season both on and off the pitch.’
Chris Stone continues as captain though there is a doubt over his fitness for the opening game.
He suffered a skiing injury and will have a late fitness test.
If he fails to pass then the team will be captained by the vastly experienced Richard Hindley.
Jerry is also unavailable so debut making Mistry, who featured for Hampshire second team in the week, is likely to lead the attack with Gidana.
The home side will be looking for 17-year-old Harry Gadd to continue his excellent start with the bat.
Gadd opened up with an impressive 170 in a pre-season friendly.
It looks like he has benefited enormously from his winter of cricket in New Zealand.
He created a great impression with his club in Otago and Stainton insists it has done the youngster the world of good.
The manager added: ‘Harry has already shown that he has matured as a batsman.
‘He can be a big force for us opening the batting.’
Havant: Chris Stone, Harry Gadd, Stuart Ransley, Chris Morgan, Richard Hindley, Jeremy Bulled, Peter Hopson, Krissie Mistry, Freddy Gadd, Graham Burns, Simon Loat.