Paignton have started strengthening ahead of their return to the Premier Division next season by recruiting Mark Orchard from A Division neighbours Brixham.
All-rounder Orchard, who will be 29 in February, is the first player signed by Paignton skipper George Benton with an eye on not just getting up but staying up.
Paignton don’t have too many problems getting into the Premier Division – they have gone up in 2009, 2014 and 2016. The problem is they were relegated in 2011, 2015 and 2017.
Orchard, originally a fast bowler who has developed into an effective middle-order batsman, brings a wealth of experience with him to Queen’s Park.
He had two seasons playing Minor Counties cricket for Devon and may well have played longer had it not been for an injury problem. He announced his arrival with a five-wicket haul on debut against Shropshire.
Exmouth lured Orchard over to the Maer Ground in 2013 and he was a member of the side that won the Premier title that summer, averaging 45 with the bat and 34 with the ball.
It was back to Brixham in 2014 to play a part in the project that took the club back to the Premier Division at the end of the following season.
Orchard took over as Brixham captain for the 2018 summer, but stood down before half way, although he continued to play in the club’s fight to avoid relegation from the A Division.
Tom Blundell took over from Orchard as captain and, in a double blow for Brixham, it appears he is on the way to Queen’s Park as well. He took 17 league wickets in the early 30s in 2018.
Orchard should be in his cricketing prime now and wants to make the best of it.
“Paignton are a well-run club that fits my needs,” said Orchard.
“I am keen to be involved with a Premier club for the foreseeable future.”
Benton sees Orchard as a quality signing who brings desire as well as expertise to the team.
“Mark brings a lot of experience and he wants to play cricket hard again,” said Benton, who confirmed the signing of Blundell.
Benton added: “Still looking to add a couple more to get to where we want, which is have a good squad and everyone competing for places.”