IT IS safe to assume that the number of maidens bowled by the opposition at Lechlade CC’s Manor Ground this summer will be significantly reduced after the club signed big-hitting South African Juanre van Wyk ahead of the new season which starts on May 3.

Lechlade had been expecting to field the former West Indies Test cricketer Sylvester Joseph as their marquee overseas signing this year, but difficulties over obtaining a visa have ruled out the veteran.

Instead, Lechlade chairman Paul Rowley has snapped up a promising pro at the other end of his career.

The 25-year-old right-handed batsman van Wyk, who also keeps wicket, has proved a prolific run-getter for Free State and South African Universities, particularly in the T20 format, and transferred those talents to the English game in the last two seasons when playing for Rushden Town CC of the Northamptonshire League.

Last season alone for Rushden he hit 1,189 runs at an average of 74. And he is clearly no respecter of reputations.

Playing as guest pro for Brixworth against the celebrity Lashing All Stars XI laden with former Test players, van Wyk tore their attack to shreds hitting 117 not out off 41 balls.

“We only heard last week that Sylvester’s move might be iffy so our hand was rather forced,” said Rowley.

“We approached the same agent (Stephen Hirst of CricX) and essentially whittled down a list to four names before letting my captain Joe Breet make the choice.

“Joe is also South African so he has a good handle on the sort of teams that Juanre was playing for over there and we also made some enquiries about him in the Northamptonshire League.”

Rowley’s Lechlade CC had a fine 2013 season in the West of England Premier, narrowly missing out on back-to-back promotions but collecting the County Cup.

As was going to be the case with Joseph, van Wyk will be a guest of the chairman at his house in Cirencester.

“We are getting a young, explosive cricketer and a very good wicket keeper,” insisted Rowley.

“Division One of the Northamptonshire League is above our standard and he scored a bucket-load of runs last season.

“He is also great mates with one of Biddestone’s South African players, Niel Bredenkamp, so there is sure to be some good banter when we play them.”