TOM Morton has resumed the South Wilts’ captaincy after James Hibberd’s retirement and will lead the side in Saturday’s testing ECB Southern Premier League curtain raiser against Alton at the Jubilee Field.

Morton, who is closing in on 7,000 SPL runs for the Bemerton club, is certainly looking forward to resuming the role in what he regards “an exciting time for the club.”

He says: “We have quite a few young players with plenty of potential, so it will be great from a coaching perspective to be able to support these lads.

“It is always an honour to captain a club like South Wilts, I have had 11 fantastic seasons here and I know how much the first team means to the members and VP’s.

“We are building a fairly new side with some fresh faces, I am confident there will be some success in the near future with the group we have but this may require some patience and plenty of hard work.”

One new face in the South Wilts side is Aussie Peter Rowe, who has joined the Wilton Road set on recommendation from Western Australia left-arm seamer Ryan Duffield, who played in the club’s last title winning side.

An opening batsman and medium seam bowler, Rowe hails from the successful WACA Grade club Melville, but has been playing club cricket in the UK for several seasons, racking up runs galore for Ketton Sports in the Cambridgeshire League.

He made an unbeaten 44 in South Wilts’ easy ECB Royal London Cup win over Totton & Eling last weekend.

All-rounder Will Harries, who played in South Wilts’ successful indoor sixes team this winter, has switched from Shrewton and will join a primarily seam attack.

The improving Matt Burton will also play at Alton – with Morton stressing his selection is ‘on merit’ and not because Ryan Murray has a shoulder injury.

“Matt’s been impressive in the pre-season games, with both ball and bat. He’s a very handy tail-ender,” Morton added.

Morton is also looking for teenagers Ben Draper and Jack Spearman to continue the progress they made last season – left-hander Spearman making a late summer century against the Hampshire Academy – and for Luke Evans to continue where he left off in 2018, when he won the Premier League’s prestigious Young Cricketer award.

There is no place, as yet, for New Milton teenager Raff Hussey, who will look to get some runs under his belt in the newly promoted second team’s SPL2 match against Paultons at Bemerton.

Morton is under no illusions about the task South Wilts face at Alton.

“They are a very competitive side – one that has enjoyed success against us in the past,” he warned.

“They’ve sharpened their attack by signing Matt Bacon, who plays for the New Zealand provincial side Otago and by all accounts will be the quickest bowler on the Premier Division circuit this summer.”

South Wilts team to play Alton is: Tom Morton, Peter Rowe, Jack Spearman, James Hayward, Joe Cranch, Ben Draper, Art Godsall, Luke Evans, Steve Warner, Will Harries, Matt Burton.