SANDFORD will be defending the Premier Division title they won last season without the substantial services of Indian all-rounder Dikshanshu Negi.
Instead the 33 year old will be turning out for Royton CC, who play in the Greater Manchester Cricket League.
Negi, who has been playing Twenty20 cricket for Uttarakhand in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, was the stand-out player in the Tolchards DCL last season.
No one scored more league and cup runs than Negi – 810 at an average in the high 60s – although Sidmouth’s Bryce Parsons (738) probably would have had he not returned to South Africa with a month of the season to go.
Negi’s 43 wickets at less than 10 runs each put him comfortably ahead of Sidmouth spinner Charlie Miles (32) at the top of the bowling statistics.
With Negi at full throttle, Sandford lifted the Premier Division title for the first time in almost two decades.
Jackson Thompson, the Sandford skipper, had hoped to keep Negi at Creedy Park for a crack at defending the title.
“It was never a done deal that Dikshu would be staying and he goes with our blessings,” said Thompson.
“Something Dikshu wants to do was experience different levels of cricket and see other parts of the country.
“We were fair in letting him process the season and explore all options. He was offered a very good deal by Sandford, but the lure of playing in a different part of the country trumped it.
“We will be sourcing a suitable replacement.”
Sandford’s title-winning squad contained three University of Exeter students – Dan Ward, Albert Grieve and Jono Hawley – none of whom will be around in 2024.
Thompson has not secured any fresh faces yet – and hopes of attracting Ben Privett from Plympton to Creedy Park were thwarted by his decision to join Cornwood.
“Cornwood beat me to it so I will have to pursue other signings,” said Thompson.
FORMER North Devon captain Barney Huxtable has been dual registered with Bradninch & Kentisbeare for the season ahead.
Port Talbot Town, who play in the South Wales Premier League, has been Huxtable’s first-claim club since 2017. He joined them while at university.
Huxtable has previously played for Braunton in two spells, Exmouth and North Devon, where he skippered the 1st XI in 2015 and 2016. He also had two seasons – 2014 and 2015 – as a member of the Devon three-day squad.
Bradninch & Kentisbeare regulars Eliot Acton, Andrew Buzza and Tim Piper are all former team-mates of Huxtable’s from their time together in the Devon under-21 side.