Harry Bannister on his way out to bat in a cup game for Bovey Tracey last season<br>credit: Mark Lockett

ASHBURTON’S new captain Lloyd White has wasted no time strengthening his first-team squad for the season ahead in the Tolchards DCL C Division West.

White’s first signing is keeper-batsman Harry Bannister, who has made the short trip down the A38 from Bovey Tracey to play first-team cricket.

Ashburton have lost numerous players to Bovey in recent seasons – the Causeys and the Colwills among them – so some traffic in the opposite direction is a welcome boost.Lloyd White – Ashburton's new skipper

White has kept wicket for Ashburton for the past two seasons – Ash Berry had the job before him – but is happy to hand the gloves to Bannister from now on..

“Harry Bannister will strengthen our middle order as well as taking the gloves behind the stumps,” said White.

“Harry fits the mould of the club perfectly and I have no doubt he will contribute in all areas.”

Bannister went through the Bovey age-group system from under-11 to under-19 and by the age of 14 was playing Saturday league cricket in the 4thXI. He was a member of the Bovey Tracey under-19 side that won the Devon U19 Cup last season.

Bannister played more than 150 games at all levels for Bovey Tracey and was quick to praise his former club for the experience.

“I want to thank Bovey Tracey for all the opportunities that they have provided me with, said Bannister.

“The opportunity to keep wicket in 1st XI cricket was one I couldn't turn down and I am really looking forward to the season ahead at Ashburton.”

White has taken over as captain from Steve Edmonds, who had two years in the post. 

White’s cricket journey stared as a colt with Exeter, where he was a spin-bowler who batted. He moved to Budleigh in 2006 and during a decade at Ottermouth captained the second team for two years (2013-14) and the first team in his final season (2015).

He was the first player in the history of the Devon League to score two double centuries, although that feat has since been replicated by Kilmington’s Alex Rockett.

Looking ahead to the next part of his cricket journey, White said: “I have only ever skippered the club's T20 cup sides – which I really enjoyed – and with Steve standing down, I was keen to put my name in the hat.

“Steve has been an awesome leader over the past few years, both on and off the pitch, and I think the reduced responsibility will once again bring out the best in him. I know the club are extremely grateful for his efforts.”

Ashburton have underachieved for several seasons, generally finishing closer to the bottom than the top without being in serious relegation danger. White hopes to change that.

“The last few final league positions don't truly reflect the talent we have in the side and it is my number one priority to unlock that potential on the pitch,” said White.

“The ambition this season is to knock-on the door at the right end of the table!"

Pre-season nets are already under way at the nearby Ashmoor Leisure Centre. Dates are February 18 and 25, March 12 and 24 and finally April 7. Times are 10am-noon.

“All new players of any ability are most welcome,” said White.