RUTHERGLEN United’s latest English import, Ben Gartside, says the club is in the box seat to win the Wangaratta and District premiership.
The Redlegs are top of the ladder heading into today’s one-day clash against perennial power City Colts at Barkly Park and a win would be a big psychological victory for the club as it heads into Christmas.
“We should be up there to win it,” Gartside said.
“It’s competitive cricket — there are a couple of teams that push you really hard.
Gartside has been one of the key factors in Rutherglen’s impressive start to the season.
The 18-year-old joined the Redlegs from Derbyshire Premier League club Spondon and has relished the Australian conditions.
The all-rounder has 18 wickets from five games, second only to Beechworth’s Jarod Thomson, who has 20 from six.
Gartside, who has also made 57 runs, took 8-69 with his off-spin in Rutherglen’s loss to the Wanderers at Beechworth in round 4.
Redlegs captain, fellow Englishman Jon Shaw, said the youngster would be the ideal player for the WDCA to take to Melbourne Country Week in February.
“You would think he would be up for contention,” Shaw said.
“He bowls really nice off-spin and he’s obviously been coached well.
“He is a quality spinner and gives it a whack in the middle order.
“Any side that has a quality spinner has a big advantage.”
Gartside is working on the farm of Greg Lumby, Rutherglen’s football club president.
He found out about the Redlegs through Spondon teammates Joe and Ben Ashdown, who spent time at the WDCA club.
“They got in touch and said: ‘we’ve got a young guy who is keen to go over’,” Shaw said.
“They said they enjoyed it and think he will too.”
And he has.
“I love it here. It’s a really good set-up and everyone has looked after me really well,” he said.
“I was keen on coming over to play and I am hoping to come back in two or three years’ time.”