The club’s new overseas signing for the 2014 season certainly made an impressive first start within days of stepping off the plane from his native New Zealand.
With only a short net and a brief first get-together with his new team mates on Thursday night the likeable newcomer was pitched straight into battle with the top team last season in Devon, Exmouth at their Maer ground headquarters.
He opened the bowling with the evergreen Paul Nott and first over was typically ‘on the money’. He went on to bowl in two spells with his second spell being an ‘at-the-death session’ when the home batsmen were in full flow. However, his figures of 1-46 from eight do not do justice to a fine double spell.
He certainly showed his combative spirit during his second session when he lambasted the umpire (our very own Steve Birley!) when pulled up for a wide – but then clearly showed he could take a joke when it was suggested to him that the fact he had dropped a chance off Birley’s son Will in the deep 20 minutes before might have had something to do with it! In that moment alone it was clear that BCC have a character on and off the pitch – and one who is clearly intent on delivering the goods for his club this season – stand by for lots of fun with this chap!
After tea the new man showed us all what he can do with the willow in hand! He came in first wicket down and proceeded to make a run-a-ball 72 before being caught by Andrew Buzza off the bowling of Bob Dawson. The new man was at the wicket for 82 minutes and hit eight 4s.
So who is Gian Botha? He was born in South Africa on April 27, 1988 and is an all-rounder who has played New Zealand minor counties cricket for Manukan. He is a New Zealand Cricket Coach at level 1 which is comparable with the ECC level 2.
He has played in the UK before having two successful spells with Old Bristolians a Westbury-based side. He scored 423 runs at 47 in 2012, then 590 runs at 59 last season whilst he also claimed 25 wickets at 25 over the two seasons in the Bristol/Somerset Division of the West of England Premier League.
He has also previously played in Northern Ireland for Cooke Collegians in 2007-08 where once again, he was a stand-out performer with bat (782 runs at 45.30) and ball (34 wickets at 19.35).
Back in his native New Zealand Botha has forged quite a reputation in the Counties-Manukau club scene. He skippered premier club side Papakura and before relocating to the UK in 2012 had over 70 premier matches in addition to four Fergus Hickey games for Counties-Manukau (New Zealand’s Minor County equivalent).
He represented Auckland through the age-groups and in 2010/11, broke into the Counties-Manukau Senior Representative side courtesy of his exploits at club level for Papakura.
There’s little doubt, based on first impressions, that Gian Botha is going to be very good for the Bradninch Cricket Club – he will certainly engage with the younger players (he was a real supportive to debut-making 15-year-old Will Birley in the Exmouth game) – he’s also already said that when time permits he’ll help with the Last Man Standing team (this season the BCC LMS team is to be a mix of youngsters with a couple of experienced players to help them along).
Gian Botha ‘Welcome to Kensham Park – may your 2014 stay with us be happy and prosperous on and off the pitch’.