Stars head south for cricket fix
OUR summer of cricket may be long gone, but that's not stopping some of the stars of Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town and Caistor cricket clubs.
Players from each of the area's big teams have decided to continue playing through the 'off-season' in the southern hemisphere.
The Meggies' overseas star Graham Hume has returned to his native South Africa to play first-class cricket with Gauteng.
And the team's young spinner Harry Clewett, pictured below, is heading back to Swan Hill CC in Victoria, Australia to continue his progression.
The first cricketer from mainland China to play in an overseas league, Jiang Shuyao, is back home, hoping for a return to North East Lincolnshire next season.
Elsewhere, Grimsby batsman Harry Warwick is also Victoria-bound, while his team-mate from the 2012 campaign, Johannes Diseko, has returned to South Africa.
Caistor skipper Liam Wood is another on his travels, playing club cricket on New Zealand's South Island.
Clee's cricket section chairman Paul Hewstone believes it is beneficial for players to travel and experience different conditions.
"We saw the change in Harry this season after his winter in Oz," he said.
"He turned himself into, not just a Yorkshire League spinner, but a Yorkshire League all-rounder, batting at five towards the end of the season.
"He improved no end as a cricketer and is now a top-class player, with his fielding as well.
"Going away has certainly helped Harry with his cricket."
He added: "Graham Hume has returned to South Africa and made a great impression here this summer.
"Shu went back to China last month and he presented us with a Chinese international cricket shirt before he went, which was a really nice touch.
"He was a really popular guy and a great credit to himself – he got involved in everything we asked him to do and took onboard everything we wanted him to learn."
For Warwick, it is a fantastic chance to play at a higher standard and continue his progression.
And Grimsby skipper Jim Morgan can't wait to see the impact it will have on the youngster's game in the spring.
"Harry flew out to Australia at the start of the month and it's going to be a great experience for him," Morgan said.
"He will be playing at a higher standard than in the Lincs ECB Premier League, so hopefully he'll come back a better, stronger player for the experience.
"If he carries on playing the way he has been then he certainly will do. Harry is definitely one for the future.
"He's become a stronger player this year. Everyone could see that he had talent, but whereas before he'd get a really attractive 30, this season he's been up in the 80s and 90s – that's a sign that he's grown up and learnt his game a lot more.
"The key now is for him not to go off the boil and I think Australia will help him with that.
"There are about 11 Lincs ECB players going over there this winter, so I'm hoping it will be a stronger league and Lincolnshire county squad as a result."
Wood, meanwhile, has swapped Brigg Road for the city of Christchurch.
The Caistor captain has joined up with Old Boys Collegians – one of the country's biggest and most famous cricket clubs with eight senior teams and more than 50 junior sides.
"We currently have three contracted Canterbury players in the first team," Wood explained.
"Two of the more famous ex-players are Shane Bond and Brendon McCullum, and Graeme Swann and Scott Borthwick have both wintered here in the last decade.
"I'm aiming to progress my cricket by learning from better players, and hopefully a season away from captaincy will allow me to view things from a new perspective next season.
"Even the training is a lesson in itself. There are players that harbour hopes of playing international cricket, and there's me practicing alongside them – it's a great opportunity."
JIANG Shuyao and Graham Hume could both return to Cleethorpes CC next season – if finances permit.
The overseas pair impressed at Clee with their performances and impact this year, and the club are keen to get them back
"We spoke to Graham before he left – he was keen to come back and we're keen to have him back," said the Meggies' cricket section chairman Paul Hewstone.
"With any overseas player you employ there's a risk, but with Graham we know what we're getting and know the type of lad he is.
"Coming back is something 'Shu' (pictured right) would like to do and we would like to see that.
"It comes down to finances – we need to see what's available in the cricket budget for next year and if these things are possible or not.
"This year Shu got his flight sponsored and pretty much paid for himself once he was here.
"That's not going to happen again, so if anyone wants to sponsor him, give us a call!"
Hewstone continued: "Matt Smith, the contact over in China, is hopeful of one or two lines of sponsorship.
"It would be great for him. But if not Shu, we have said to Matt if he knows of someone else who is suitable, we would love to do the same thing again.
"Shu's gone back a better player, there's no question of that."