EXMOUTH have started squad strengthening for the 2013 season as they aim to go one better than runners-up in the Premier Division this year, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

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Former Devon wicketkeeper-batsman and vice-captain Sandy Allen has made the short trip up the coast from Budleigh Salterton to the Maer Ground.

Allen was captain at Ottermouth, but gave the job up two years ago due to work commitments, which limited him to just a handful of games in 2011 and none at all in 2012.

Exmouth already have a couple of wicketkeepers with Rhys Davies the main one, and Allen says he is planning to play first and foremost as a batsman.

“I will be grazing in the outfield if Rhys is keeping, but if not I will go behind the stumps,” said Allen.

Lawrence Greenway stood in with the gloves last season on the occasions Davies wasn’t around. Joining Allen at Exmouth is last season’s Brixham captain Mark Orchard, who broke into the Devon team at the tail end of the county campaign and took six wickets on his debut. Orchard - known throughout cricket in Devon as Scrumpy - is a lively opening or first-change bowler who is no mug with a bat in his hand either. Leaving A Division Brixham is hard for Orchard as dad Barry is chairman at the club, where he has played since he could first pick up a bat.

“It is time to move on and keep on improving,” said Orchard.

Exmouth skipper Richard Baggs is delighted with his new signings - and hinted others may be on the way.

“Mark and Sandy are proven players who will make us stronger all round,” said Baggs. “We identified that we needed another batter and keeper as Rhys is only available in the second half of the season. To get Sandy on board covers two areas in one player. Also, we needed extra seam options and Mark is a fantastic young bowler who wants to progress and develop and felt he needed to move on.”

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