PREMIER champions Sidmouth have pulled off a signing coup by luring former Somerset batsman Alex Barrow to the Fortfield next season.
Barrow, who will be 27 next year, had four seasons with Sidmouth’s Premier Division rivals Exeter, latterly as the club’s coaching professional. He hit 14 half centuries and a single ton in 48 appearances for the County Grounders, totting up 1938 runs at an average of 40.38.
When Miles Lenygon stood down as Exeter captain at the end of the 2017 summer, Barrow took over. He skippered the side to second spot in last season’s Tolchards Devon Cricket League Premier table.
Exeter were expecting Barrow to carry on as captain in 2019, so his decision to move on came as a shock.
Glenn Lammonby, Exeter’s director of cricket, said: “People move on and Alex felt the time was right to do something different and he pulled the pin on us.
“Alex has been good for Exeter CC and we have been good for Alex – and we thought everything was tickety-boo. Clearly it wasn’t.
“We will have to decide where we go next in terms of a captain and a coaching professional.”
Lammonby said it was early to be speculating about a possible new skipper, but any short list will be just that… short.
Somerset duo Tom Lammonby and Ben Green are ruled out as their availability cannot be guaranteed, as are the University of Exeter students such as Ethan Bamber and others.
Senior player Rob Holman has had a previous stint as captain (2011-12) but is reluctant to do another term.
Another option would be to look outside the club for an experienced Premier campaigner with captaincy aspirations of experience.
Sidmouth have been steadily squad building since the end of their title-winning season in readiness for a successful defence of their title.
Barrow joins Dom Bess, Rory Thomas and Matt Parker who have already signed or re-signed for the Fortfield outfit.
Bess played two games for Clevedon in the WEPL last season around his Somerset commitments. Sidmouth are unlikely to see that much more of the off-spinning all-rounder, who played in two Test matches last summer.
Barrow has been brought in to do the same job he did at Exeter: coach professionally at all levels of the club and score regular runs in the 1st XI.
Anthony Griffiths, a former Sidmouth 1st XI captain and now the club secretary, said Barrow really was being brought in to do a job.
“As far as we are concerned it is a professional position and we make no bones about it,” said Griffiths.
“Alex will coach the adults on Wednesday, the juniors on Fridays and be available for one-to-one coaching in the same way he was at Exeter.
“I doubt very much we will have an overseas player along the lines of Aviwa Mgijima (Cape Cobras) next season as Alex will be fulfilling that role.
“That is not to say there will not be an overseas player at Sidmouth, but if there is on it will be a young cricketer paying his way, not a fully-fledged First Class player.”
Griffiths said it might seem strange that Sidmouth were strengthening so vigorously, but there will be gaps to fill in the squad in 2019.
“Dec Lines has moved away from the area and we don’t expect Scott Barlow will be traveling down from London as often to play for us,” said Griffiths.
“Zak Bess is working away and with Josh Bess anticipating fatherhood early in the season we are unlikely to see him for a while.”
Barrow went through the Somerset youth system from under-11 to under-17 level and joined the county academy programme in 2008.
He played for England at under-19 level and made his First Class debut for Somerset in 2011.
Barrow appeared in 40 First Class matches and 26 List A games for Somerset. He was released by Somerset at the end of the 2016 season.