The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Four in, four out as Shire ring changes for new term
Captain Venske calls for fast start ahead of season opener at Grange
The Aberdeenshire revolving door has been in full swing at Mannofield with four new faces arriving, four departing and the future of one other still to be resolved.
Sri Lankan top order batsman and off-spinner Akshu Fernado is the new club professional, replacing Lesibe Chris Ngoepe while New Zealander Callum Mackaness, a left arm medium fast bowler, has replaced Jarod van Blerk as amateur at Mannofield for the summer. The club has also looked across the city to Stoneywood-Dyce for a couple of recruits in the shape of Owen Davies and Ewan Davidson.
The duo join a squad which has lost Scotland under-19 player Connor Shorten to Grange on the eve of the new season while Calum Howard is taking a break from national league cricket in 2018.
Shire captain Chris Venske is pleased with the recruitment at the club but knows there is room for improvement at Manno-field this season.
He said: “The season is just about to start so it’s hard to predict what lies ahead.
“Our bowling looks pretty good but I’d say there is a lot of work to do as far as our batting goes. I’m reasonably happy with the squad but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how the team gels.
“Callum is here and played against Stoneywood-Dyce in a friendly on Saturday but Akshu missed the game due to a delay in obtaining his visa so we’ve still to see him play.”
Venske is also facing a
“We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how the team gels”
nervous wait to discover whether Callum Martin will be playing for or against the club this season. He said: “Callum could have a new job in Edinburgh. If that happens he will be moving away from the area and will likely join Heriot’s.
“It’s always the way that this seems to happen on the eve of the new season for us. We lost Adrian O’Neill in similar circumstances a couple of years ago and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Shire will not face recently departed teammate Shorten, who left the club two weeks ago to join Grange, who will welcome the Mannofield club to Edinburgh for the opening game of the new Eastern Premier season tomorrow.
Venske said: “Connor has been struggling with an injury and hasn’t been training while he was with us so I don’t expect he’ll be involved on Saturday.
“Grange are a strong side but we haven’t lost to them since 2016 so we will go there with confidence and hopefully some momentum.
“It’s a tough opener but we’re looking forward to it.”