Woodvale’s new signings James Hall and Ruhan Pretorious set for CIYMS opener

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Woodvale stole the headlines more than once during the off-season with their recruitment of James Hall and Ruhan Pretorius, and the duo are set to make their competitive debut on Saturday.

Hall, who scored almost 12,000 runs for Waringstown, made a switch to Ballygomartin Road from The Lawn while Woodvale moved quickly to secure Pretorius’ services after his release from North Down.

The pair add serious experience and quality to a Woodvale side that finished sixth in their first season back in the top-flight after nine years.

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Stephen Bunting has taken on the captaincy from Jamie Gibson and is excited to see their new signings in action, starting with an away clash against defending LVS Twenty20 Cup champions CIYMS.

James Hall in action for Waringstown.James Hall in action for Waringstown.
James Hall in action for Waringstown.

“I captained the club in 2012 but it took me by surprise when Jamie spoke to me about him wanting to step down,” he said.

“He was one of the main reasons I came back to the club and he got the ball rolling along with a few others for bringing me back (from Instonians).

“It’s nice to take on the mantle and it helps bringing in some really experienced cricketers.

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“James Hall has scored 12,000 odd runs and Ruhan has been the best professional over the last five years.

“You’ve good sounding boards with them and it will be good to bring on young Harry Warke who will be vice-captain this year.

“One of the main things we wanted out of them was to show younger players how to develop their game.

“James Hall and Ruhan Pretorius at the top of the order is a scary prospect. Hopefully we can lean on them but a big part of their role is developing our other players into game winners.”

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Now with a season under their belt - albeit an unusual campaign that was solely made up of Twenty20 fixtures - Bunting is hopeful his squad will be able to take another step forward.

“I think myself and Wayne Horwood would have been the only two that had recent Premier League experience,” he added.

“I think last season was an eye-opener for the boys and helped me to get the message across that Premier League cricket has changed, grown and developed.

“It has helped integrate better training with more structured practice. Ruhan and Jimmy are lending great experience to our young and developing batsmen, and even the older heads are asking questions about scoring runs in the Premier League.”

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Bunting also has high expectations for results on the field and believes they’ve put together a squad capable of achieving them.

“With the players we have and the experience we have with Ruhan, Jimmy, Wayne Horwood, Paul Robinson, myself – there are a lot of players there who can win us games,” he said.

“We would be happy in mid-table pushing fourth or third depending on how things work out for us. I would also like to see us go on a run in one of the cup competitions.”

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