OPENING UP: Englishman Russell Hughes hopes to bring his run-making form to Mildura East this Sunraysia Cricket Association season. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

MILDURA East have bolstered their batting order with the addition of Russell Hughes ahead of tomorrow’s Sunraysia Cricket Association (SCA) season opener against Merbein South.

The 26-year-old opening batsman from Newcastle, England, hopes to add plenty of runs to the East top order, supporting reigning Innes Medal winner Brad Thomas.

East were the last team to win the Sunraysia Cricket Association premiership before Mildura Settlers’ domination over the past three seasons.

The left-hander and part-time off-spinner from Falmouth Cricket Club in the Cornwall Cricket League hopes his first venture to Australia can be a successful one.

“(East bowler) Jhy Berry played at our club during the 2016 season, and he first raised the idea to me then about playing in Australia,” Russell said.

“I thought it was a bit of banter, but in December last year he contacted me again and asked if I wanted to come over.

“I’d always heard about it (playing overseas), and I know a number of players that are doing it. Now was the right time as I’ve just finished my Masters in Journalism and don’t have too many responsibilities.

“Our season just finished and I made around 700 runs, averaging about 42 per innings. My fellow opener and I were both in the top three run-scorers in the league which was nice. We have just finished our season so I haven’t had a huge break.”

Russell was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. His father, originally from Cardiff, Wales, worked in the mines in Johannesburg, but stayed for 21 years after meeting Russell’s mum, who was born and bred in the South African capital.

Russell is a dual citizen after moving to England aged eight.

The Englishman said he would need to learn to cope with harder pitches that produce more bounce than the playing surfaces back home.

“I don’t know a lot about how East have been going, but Jhy had indicated to me they could use some stability at the top of the order,” he said.

“Obviously I want to make some runs and add some stability to the batting order. My strike rate isn’t too bad either so hopefully I can make some runs at a decent pace.

“I’m obviously going to need to get used to the bounce of the pitches here. Hopefully the pay-off is that I don’t have to worry as much about sideways movement or swing.”

Mildura East visit Merbein South at Chaffey Park this weekend.