Exmouth CC have made two significant signings that will certainly make them a real threat to Francis Clark Devon League Premier Division title holders Sidmouth in 2013, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

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The Maer men have signed spin-bowling all-rounder Gary Chappell from Bradninch and Paignton batsman Seb Benton.

Benton topped the A Division batting stats last season with 662 at an average of 60.18. Despite injury problems during the season he finished it in the Devon Minor Counties side.

Benton’s father, grandfather, uncle and great uncle all played for Paignton – as do his brother and a cousin.

Leaving is a wrench but Benton (left) has no regrets.

“I need a new challenge as my ability is wasted in the A Division and I need to come out of my comfort zone,” said Benton.

“Change keeps the mind active and I feel I have a lot more to give to Exmouth than I do at Paignton.

“Paignton has been, and always will be, in my heart. But the move has been in the pipeline for a couple of seasons. The time is now right.”

Chappell captained Bradninch for much of the campaign, taking over from Ross Acton, and was second in the bowling averages with 25 scalps at a little more than nine runs each.

Chappell played one-day cricket for Devon, but ruled himself out of the three-day Championship fixtures.

“I have been mulling it over for a few months now and finally made my decision to leave,” said Chappell.

“I have had an unbelievable eight years at Bradninch, and owe everyone at the club a great deal.

“We’ve moved from the C division to the Premier, but I feel I have achieved all I can there and need to move for a new challenge.

“It is hard to leave so many good friends, but the time is right to move on and I’m relishing the opportunity to play for Exmouth and hopefully win the league with them.”

With ex-county keeper and vice-captain Sandy Allen and Brixham’s Devon rookie Mark Orchard already recruited, Exmouth are looking strong for the summer ahead.

They only finished three points behind eventual champions Sidmouth and with new players on board will fancy claiming the title for the first time since 1999.

Skipper Richard Baggs said: “Seb and Gary are fantastic signings and bring great balance to the team.

On the departure of their former skipper, Bradninch issued a statement which read: “Gary Chappell has decided to leave Bradninch CC and join Exmouth CC for next season. This was a very difficult decision for Gary and we must respect and accept it, while also thanking him for his exceptional dedication as a player and more recently, as captain of the 1st XI. We also owe him our gratitude for working with our Colts last season and taking on the running of the burgeoning Under-13s side, the further development of which will feed in to our senior cricket. He is joining a very strong Exmouth side and will no doubt enjoy great success in the coming years. We wish him all the best, but if for any reason it does not work out, there will always be a warm welcome for him at Kensham Park.”

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