Captain Jack Welch is hoping Atherton’s new professional Shayne Moseley - the former West Indies Test batter - can bring a “buzz” to the Higham Park club and provide the missing ingredient which helps secure promotion.

Atherton will start the 2024 Anthony Axford North West Cricket League in the second tier Championship division.

But they have eyes only for promotion, as indicated by the statement signing of Moseley, a 29-year-old left-hander from Barbados who played two Test matches on tour in Bangladesh in early 2021.

The man who is replacing Zain Abbas after three years has also scored five first-class centuries in 43 appearances.

“Everyone is excited to play with Shayne - someone who has played Test cricket - and hopefully it gives the club a buzz,” said Welch, whose side finished 19th in the first year of the NWCL with four wins from their 23 matches.

“He’s got a solid first-class record with plenty of experience. That’s what we’re hoping he will bring because we’re a fairly young squad.

“We struggled this year just getting over the line in some games due to our lack of experience.

“We have a young team, and that’s where Shayne will help us win games of cricket instead of us doing 80 percent of the job and falling short.

“Hopefully, as well, the lads being another year older will help us push towards promotion. Everyone wants to play in that top division.”

Moseley’s signing - plus that of fellow Bajan Jamaine Bullen as an overseas amateur all-rounder - was sorted by Atherton’s director of cricket, Jonathan Fearick.

“We’ve also got contacts from the West Indies who have played for us before,” said Welch. “We’ve spoken to them, and luckily it’s worked out that we’ve been able to get Shayne.”

Moseley batted at three in his two Test appearances, but he can also open.

“I’d imagine he will bat in either of those two positions. We’ll have to see where he feels most comfortable,” continued Welch. “He will also be able to bring a bit to us with the ball, just as he will with his fielding.

“We’re also hoping for more of an off-field presence at the club, before games, after games, during the week at training with the seniors and the juniors. As I said earlier, it’s about creating a buzz around the place.”

Explaining the decision to part ways with former pro Abbas, Welch said: “We just felt it was the right time for both parties.

“Zain has been a great pro for us for the last three years. He probably gave us the best innings we’ve ever seen at the club, but it’s the best thing for both of us to have a change.”

That said innings from Abbas was an unbeaten 174 in the 2021 Bolton League at home to Darcy Lever. Atherton, chasing 235, collapsed to 120-8, but opener Abbas sealed a remarkable two-wicket victory.

“It was an unbelievable knock,” recalled Welch. “We were all but beaten, but Zain got us over the line. It was the best innings I’ve ever seen.”

The capture of Moseley is not just a statement signing for Atherton, it is for the NWCL, which heads into its second season in 2024.

“The Little Lever signing last season (Jake Lehmann) was probably the best there’s been in a few years, and I think it’s inspired other teams to do the same,” said Welch, who has just completed his first year as captain. “Hopefully that’ll carry on.

“As good as it is to play with these players, you also want to be playing against the best.”

And on the league as a whole, Welch added: “We’ve really enjoyed it. We loved travelling to new grounds and testing ourselves against different opposition.

“We’re really looking forward to next season.

“Hopefully, everyone is pushing to win the league, both in our division and the top one as well.

“We all want to make the standard the best it can be, and I think it will be a really tough season because everyone will be pushing for promotion in our division and they won’t want to get relegated from the top division.”