Big Bash ace heads for Centre Vale

Todmorden CC's new pro Michael Neser
Todmorden CC's new pro Michael Neser

Todmorden CC have turned to Australia for a new professional with 23-year-old Michael Neser their choice for the 2014 season.

The all-rounder, who is primarily a pace bowler, was born in South Africa but plays first class cricket for Queensland.

He is currently in action in the Big Bash T20 series Down Under, meaning Tod club members keen to avoid Ashes misery have been able to switch SKY TV channels and chart his progress instead.

And Neser is doing well for Adelaide Strikers, taking three inexpensive wickets against both Adelaide Scorchers and Sydney Thunder since Christmas.

Todmorden opening batsmen Ben Sutcliffe said Neser’s capture was exciting for the club.

“His stats look good and we have been watching him playing in the Big Bash in Australia.”

Sutcliffe, who is the cousin of first team skipper Andrew at Centre Vale, added: “He is predominantly a fast bowler although he does bat at number seven or eight in first class cricket.

“The plan is for him to arrive for the Walsden friendly, which is the day before our season starts, and then stay until the end.”

Neser made his first-class debut for Queensland against Western Australia at Brisbane in December 2010.

The right hander has taken 21 wickets at 36.95 and scored 265 runs at 20.38 in his nine first class games.

He has a top score of 77 and a best bowling return of four for 53.

Injuries have blighted Neser’s career but impressive performances for the Brisbane Heat and the Strikers surprisingly earned Neser a contract with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.

In his only game of the tournament, the Queenslander was hit for back-to-back sixes by Chris Gayle, arguably the world’s most destructive batsman.

He is unlikely to find any Gayles lurking in the Lancashire League and Tod will be hoping for a dry summer to enable him to generate some pace and bounce.

Sutcliffe added: “He has been clocked at 145km per hour which is 91 mph.”

Neser replaces Sri Lankan Geeth Alwis, who scored 1111 runs at 58.5 and took 66 wickets at 18.9 last summer.

Neser is more of a strike bowler and Sutcliffe said the club was hoping the new signing would help in the development of players such as Elliott Gilford, Freddie Priestley and young second teamer Max Gale.

Neser comes with a strong recommendation from Dan Marsh.

Another ex-Todmorden player, Brendan McArdle, has negotiated the deal.

Marsh was professional in 2000 when Todmorden won the Worsley Trophy, their last major trophy success.

They had another Australian in bowling all-rounder Matthew Nicholson in 2001 but have had mainly Asian professionals since.

Meanwhile, Todmorden are waiting until March before starting their nets.

They will have sessions at the Cricket Asylum in Sowerby Bridge from 8-10pm on five successive Mondays from March 3.

- Walsden CC are holding a Celebration Dinner, following last year’s title successes for the first and seconds teams, at the club on Saturday, February 1.

Halifax comedian Pete Emmett will provide the entertainment and tickets are £30 from Kenny Gale or first team skipper Chris Dewhirst.