Ashington Cricket Club have notched their first hat-trick before the first ball has been bowled in the 2016 campaign.
The club has signed Ben Harmison and Sean McCafferty, two former junior players with the club, and Ani Singh has been confirmed as their overseas player for a third term.
The Colliers will now go into their opening game in the Go North East Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League on Saturday, April 23, against newly promoted Benwell & Walbottle with a stronger squad.
Harmison, who returns to Langwell Crescent after a 15-year career as a professional with Durham and Kent, said: “As soon as I retired and knew I wasn’t going to compete at the top level again, I just wanted to play for Ashington.
“All my family are there, I have a couple of nephews and nieces who train there and my best mates are at the club, so I’ll be trying to help them to win the league.
“I started playing cricket at Ashington when I was ten or 11-years-old, and the dream is that you begin with your home town club, enjoy your career as a professional then when you finish, make a return to be amongst your friends – and that’s what I have done.”
The 30-year-old added: “I signed for Durham when I was 16 and when I left nine years later, we had won four trophies including two championships.
“I was with Kent for five years and I probably could have got another year, but I injured my knee and the surgeon said I would need an operation if I wanted to bowl professionally again.
“I’ve turned 30, got married and came back home and have a few things lined up which will hopefully turn out OK, but I’m thankful to Durham and Kent – two great clubs.”
McCafferty has severed a 14-year spell with Bedlington,where he was skipper last season, to link up with the Colliers.
The 24-year-old said: “I have a lot of good friends at Bedlington, including people I grew up with, and it’s a wrench to leave, but I thought the time was right for a new challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to it at Ashington. I know the lads well and I’m hoping I can come in and make a difference.
“Certainly I can see exciting times ahead with top quality in the batting line-up.”
Greg Williams, ready to embark on his fifth season as first XI skipper at the Langwell Crescent club, said: “Ben is a fabulous signing for us. He is a local lad and not someone who we have drafted in from elsewhere.
“His cricketing ability is fantastic and his presence will obviously be a massive bonus for us because he gives us so many options.
“He also brings knowledge and experience, which will be invaluable, especially to the younger lads in the team.”
Of McCafferty, Williams added: “I thought we were a batter short last season and I’m delighted to get Sean on board.
“He scored runs last year for Bedlington and it will be good for him to strengthen our middle order.”
Williams, who will be 37 next month, said of the return of Singh: “Everything is sorted with Ani’s employers and we couldn’t have asked any more from him than what he achieved in the past two years.
“He has loved every minute of his time with us and we are all excited about welcoming him back to the club.”