Ivybridge bring in Zondo and Raheja to bolster batting for season ahead

Ivybridge skipper Harry Solomon, who is aiming to steer clear of the drop spots this season

IVYBRIDGE are determined to make the best of an unexpected reprieve from relegation from the A Division in the season ahead.

It looked like curtains for Ivybridge at the end of last season after they finished one off the bottom in the A Division.

An unexpected reprieve arrived shortly after the end of the season when Brixham pulled their 2ndXI out of the league and asked for their 1stXI to be demoted.

Brixham went down alongside Chudleigh and Ivybridge lived to fight another day.

There was a curious irony in Ivybridge staying up the way they did as Brixham had benefited the same way 12 months earlier when Lewdown restructured.

Dinesh Raheja - proven run scorer in the lower divisionsHaving worked hard to earn promotion into the A Division for the 2017season, no one at Ivybridge wanted go take a backward step.

Harry Solomon, who is leading the side into a second season, said consistency of selection will help the club’s fortunes in the summer ahead.

And that is one of the reasons why the club has invested in South African Zipho Zondo and Exeter-based Dinesh Raheja for the coming campaign.

Zondo and Raheja, who was player-coach at South Devon last season and has previous spells with Heathcoat and Alphington, are both early order batsmen.

Solomon wants Ivybridge to get early runs on the board this season and have a settled line-up from the start.

Zondo scored more than 1,000 runs in all competitions for Hatherleigh last season – half of them in the Premier Division – while Raheja has totted up nearly 1,200 runs in the last two seasons at an average of nearly 50.

Said Solomon: “We were unable to put out the same team two games running and that is a problem in itself.

“One week you are asking players to bat and six, seven or eight, the next they are opening or going in three, four and five.

“Bowlers want to know what their role is and what is expected of them too.

“It is very obvious from last year we need to score more runs which is why we have gone for DoDo (Zondo) and Dinesh.

“DoDo scored Premier runs last season and people we have spoken to rated him a good batsman.

“Dinesh is a left-hander – always useful to have – and has a good track record in league cricket wherever he has been.

“Both of them bowl a bit too, which increases our options.”

Zondo, who has been an infrequent performer for Kwazulu Natal in South African domestic cricket over the winter, is a straight replacement for Zimbabwean Charles Kunze, who hit 437 league runs and took 18 wickets.

Departures have been few and far between during the winter, although not unknown.

Keeper George Thompson has returned to former club Cornwood, leaving Solomon with a choice between the old and the bold.

Ivybridge’s back-up keepers are Zak Dunn – a 14 year old up and comer – or the skipper’s 59-year-old dad Derek.